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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan shake hands as LNG Canada CEO Andy Calitz, back right, watches during an LNG Canada news conference in Vancouver, Oct. 2, 2018.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

The decision by investors to move forward with the LNG Canada project in British Columbia means steeper reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will be required of the rest of the province, Premier John Horgan said Tuesday.

But the precise climate footprint of the project remains in doubt and the B.C. government is openly questioning the emissions estimations put forward by the project’s proponent.

Mr. Horgan’s government will release a new climate action plan later this fall that will count expected emissions from the LNG project of 3.4 megatonnes of GHG emissions annually.

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LNG Canada counts only the GHGs generated by the facility itself, which it says will total two megatonnes a year when the first phase of the project is complete. The provincial government is adding the emissions that will be produced in extracting natural gas from the ground, as well as the energy required to push that gas through the pipeline to the LNG facility.

LNG Canada says it does not include emissions from outside the facility because it is not clear there will be an incremental increase in natural gas production. The B.C. government estimates that 40 per cent of the gas going to the project will come from existing production, and only counts the incremental increase in its figures. Both government and industry data only account for the first phase of the project, while environmentalists are counting the second planned phase, which has not yet been approved.

Those figures are key because by the year 2030 B.C. is required by law to reduce the total GHGs for the province to below 38.8 megatonnes. Using the province’s figures, LNG Canada will account for almost 9 per cent of B.C.'s total allowable emissions.

b.c. climate goals vs. lng canada

The British Columbia government says approval

of a massive liquefied natural gas plant on the

West Coast will be accommodated within its

ambitious commitments to reduce greenhouse

gas emissions. Climate scientists argue the

construction of the LNG Canada facility will

undermine B.C.’s goals.

In metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2)

Current B.C. pollution

LNG Canada emissions (B.C. Government)

LNG Canada emissions (Sierra Club BC)

B.C.

2016

B.C.

2007

B.C. 2050

target

B.C. 2030

target

Vancouver

All buildings

in B.C.

All cars

in B.C.

All emis-

sions in B.C.

LNG Canada

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

the globe and mail, sources: sierra club BC

(via vancouver 2016 ghg; canada’s national

inventory report 2018; b.c. greenhouse gas

reductions target act; pembina institute

study on lng emissons); government of

british columbia

b.c. climate goals vs. lng canada

The British Columbia government says approval of a

massive liquefied natural gas plant on the West Coast will

be accommodated within its ambitious commitments to

reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate scientists

argue the construction of the LNG Canada facility will

undermine B.C.’s goals.

In metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2)

Current B.C. pollution

LNG Canada emissions (B.C. Government)

LNG Canada emissions (Sierra Club BC)

B.C.

2016

B.C.

2007

B.C. 2050

target

B.C. 2030

target

Vancouver

All buildings

in B.C.

All cars

in B.C.

All emis-

sions in B.C.

LNG Canada

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70 MtCO2

the globe and mail, sources: sierra club BC (via van-

couver 2016 ghg; canada’s national inventory report

2018; b.c. greenhouse gas reductions target act;

pembina institute study on lng emissons);

government of british columbia

british columbia climate goals vs. lng canada

The British Columbia government says approval of a massive liquefied natural gas

plant on the West Coast will be accommodated within its ambitious commitments to

reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate scientists argue the construction of the

LNG Canada facility will undermine B.C.’s goals.

In metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2)

Current B.C.

pollution

LNG Canada emissions

(B.C. Government)

LNG Canada emissions

(Sierra Club BC)

B.C.

2016

B.C.

2007

B.C. 2050

target

B.C. 2030

target

Vancouver

All buildings

in B.C.

All cars

in B.C.

All emissions

in B.C.

LNG Canada

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70 MtCO2

john sopinski/the globe and mail, sources: sierra club BC (via vancouver 2016

ghg; canada’s national inventory report 2018; b.c. greenhouse gas reductions

target act; pembina institute study on lng emissons); government of british

columbia

Related: Co-owners give $40-billion LNG Canada project green light in B.C.

Mr. Horgan said in an interview that the targets can still be achieved – but it will require reductions from industry, transportation and home heating.

“If we have a plan and we stick to the plan, if we are aggressive on other sectors, whether it be transportation or housing, we can meet our targets for 2030," he said. "But we have to invest in the plan and make sure it’s real.”

A new climate action plan will be released later this fall, but even that proposal will fall short of achieving the targets, senior government officials said Tuesday. Additional measures will be announced next spring to map out the path to 2030. A key feature of the strategy will be encouraging both consumers and industry to shift to electric power from fossil fuels.

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Greg D’Avignon, president of the Business Council of B.C., said Tuesday that the decision by LNG Canada’s partners to move ahead with the project is a positive signal for the investment climate in the province, and provides a guideline for a low-carbon economy that can thrive with the right fiscal policies from government and strong support from Indigenous communities.

Mr. D’Avignon said B.C.'s large supply of renewable energy – mostly hydroelectricity – needs to be harnessed to help other energy-intensive sectors such as forestry and mining reduce their carbon footprint. “We’ve got the opportunity, as with LNG Canada, to be a global climate solution provider,” he said.

But environmentalists and climate scientists say both industry and B.C. are underestimating the real carbon footprint of LNG Canada.

The Sierra Club of B.C. says “credible estimates" of emissions from the project range from 8.6 to 12 megatonnes, and at that rate, the project cannot fit into the province’s climate action plan.

“It’s irresponsible to green-light a project" whose overall carbon production is "much larger than what industry and government report,” said Ian Bruce, David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director.

Climate scientist Andrew Weaver, Leader of the BC Green Party, said he was disappointed the Horgan government made tax concessions to secure an investment that he described as a “short-term political win.”

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Mr. Weaver’s three-member caucus will not support the project, but he has said he will look at the climate plan before deciding if he will follow through on an earlier threat to withdraw from the pact that the Greens signed to prop up the NDP minority government.

Mr. Horgan acknowledged the dispute over the project’s environmental footprint, and said his government will have to work at defending its figures. “There is going to be debate about how many megatonnes results from extraction, liquefaction and so on, I’m not afraid of those, that’s the rigour you need to get to good outcomes,” he said. "The challenge for us is to make sure the science is credible, the plan is credible.”

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