China-U.S. climate deal puts focus on B.C. natural gas

LNG | BCBusiness

A 2015 global climate change conference in Paris could have consequences for the province’s LNG ambitions

Next year’s global climate change talks in Paris will have consequences for B.C., concluded a panel at SFU Wednesday night hosted by the Embassy of France. Featuring Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver and former French environment minister Corinne Lepage, the bi-national panel of French and Canadian climate experts offered a prescription for the province in light of the unprecedented agreement between China and the U.S. signed earlier this week: mitigate emissions or face tariffs and taxes in the future.
While B.C. won’t be represented at COP 2015, the follow-up to the largely unsuccessful UN conference in Copenhagen in 2009, there will probably be tariffs on greenhouse gas emissions if enough countries want climate action, said Mark Jaccard, professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser. Moreover, 80 per cent of the world’s known oil and gas deposits may have to be left in the ground.
The challenge for policymakers at COP 2015, according to the Pembina Institute, will be limiting global warming to 2°C by 2100 as a means to stave off the worst consequences of climate change. Such a goal would require limiting the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions to 450 parts per million (ppm). In business-as-usual scenarios, emissions hit 650 ppm to 850 ppm.
As part of this week’s agreement between the U.S. and China—the most comprehensive since the Kyoto protocols in 1998—the U.S. committed to reducing emissions by 26 per cent before 2025, and China said its carbon emissions would peak by 2030. Models in which the Chinese government meets that target and shifts 20 per cent of usage to renewable sources “don’t map out with dramatically increased production in B.C.,” said Jaccard.
The B.C. government, for its part, says that legislation introduced on in October, will use a system of cap-and-trade to limit the impact of emissions from potential LNG facilities. The government has yet to table legislation that addresses emissions from upstream production, which includes gas used to power extraction and leakage from the extraction and transportation of gas, which averages at around 2 to 7 per cent, according to Valerie Masson-Delmotte, a paleoclimatologist with the French delegation and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Leakage, on the high end of that scale, results in natural gas carbon emissions comprable to coal, said Delmotte.