LNG is not green, and scientists are warning that it’s been greenwashed.
As millions of people worldwide have joined Greta Thunberg’s climate strike, more hard facts are coming to light about the climate emergency.
Here at home, the proposed Woodfibre LNG project in Squamish would counteract the urgent measures needed to avert climate disaster—and science proves it, says Tracey Saxby, marine scientist and executive director of My Sea to Sky, a people-powered environmental organization that works to defend, protect and restore Howe Sound.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), along with its associated pipelines and tankers, is not “clean” as proponents claim, Saxby says. In fact, a lifecycle analysis of LNG shows that these emission-intensive LNG projects create more greenhouse gases than coal. This is due to fugitive methane emissions from fracking wells and pipelines, the energy-intensive process to cool the fracked gas to liquid form at -162°C, then to ship it to Asia, regasify it, then finally deliver it to the combustion point.
“LNG is not a climate solution. Instead, LNG will increase our emissions, making it impossible to achieve B.C.’s climate targets” Saxby says. “LNG is not green, and scientists are warning that it’s been greenwashed by industry and government.”
More and more natural gas is mined through unconventional fracking, which creates at least 30 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional sources of natural gas, according to the journal Climatic Change. In B.C., it’s estimated that 85 percent of our natural gas is now fracked.
“The science on fracking and LNG is evolving quickly,” Saxby says, “and the provincial and federal governments need to catch up.”
LNG is also in direct competition with renewables. “Right now we’re standing at a crossroads. We already have the technology we need to make the change to more affordable renewable energy,” says Saxby. “We don’t have time to invest in new fossil fuel infrastructure that will lock us into fracking and extreme greenhouse gas emissions for another 20, 30 or 40 years.
“From floods and wildfires to sea-level rise, climate change is already impacting the people and the places we love. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that we need to cut emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. We can’t do that if these LNG projects go ahead.”
In fact, a letter published in August 2019 in the prestigious science journal Nature warns that emissions from existing energy infrastructure already jeopardize the 1.5-degree climate target.
“Business as usual is no longer an option,” Saxby says. “We cannot build new fossil fuel infrastructure like Woodfibre LNG if we want a livable planet.”