A rendering of Pacific NorthWest's proposed LNG plant near Prince Rupert
LNG plant would increase province's GHG emissions by up to 22 per cent, says letter
A group of 90 scientists and climate experts have appealed to the prime minister to reject the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project near Prince Rupert, citing its significant adverse environmental effects from greenhouse gas emissions. “Honouring the commitment Canada made in Paris (2015 United Nations summit) to limit global warming to well below 2.0 degrees above pre-industrial levels will require a massive effort to reduce emissions,” their letter states. “We must begin by rejecting plans that would increase GHG emissions and lock us in fossil fuel extraction for decades to come.”
The scientists, who include academics from Canada, the U.S., Australia, and the U.K., wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stating that the project would increase B.C.’s total GHG emissions by up to 22 per cent. The emissions from the $36-billion facility, along with those from the associated upstream activities including fracking, processing and transport, would make it virtually impossible for the province to meet its own GHG emission reduction targets and undermine Canada’s international climate change commitments.
A decision by the federal government on whether to approve the LNG plant proposal, by a consortium led by Malaysian state-owned Petronas, is expected by fall 2016.
The letter states that GHG emissions reported by PNW LNG and included in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s report are likely underestimated. While the quantity of methane emissions from upstream extraction and transportation activities was calculated using a .28 per cent leakage rate, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses a rate of 1.33 per cent. “A more conservative estimate of methane leakage should have been included in the proponent’s impact assessment,” reads the letter, “and serves to grossly underestimate the total GHG emissions from the project.”
Signed by scientists from institutions including UBC, SFU, University of Western Ontario, University of Toronto, Harvard University, Columbia University, University of Washington, the Royal Society of Canada and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Australia), the letter also argues that B.C. and Canada have inadequate policies in place to meet their commitments. “The ongoing freeze in B.C.’s carbon tax and exemptions in carbon tax coverage for non-combustion emissions, such as methane venting and leakage, fundamentally undermine the province’s ability to encourage reductions in GHG emissions from the project’s associated extraction activities.”
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