John Horgan hopes sales of liquified natural gas (LNG) will allow a large expansion in natural gas production. His government said British Columbia produces “the world’s cleanest natural gas.” In the same 2019 press release, Justin Trudeau echoed that statement.
The fiction of BC producing clean fossil fuel originated with Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals. The claim was as honest as the one about LNG rewarding the province with one trillion dollars in a “BC Prosperity fund.”
National Geographic examined “the cleanest liquefied natural gas in the world” and concluded it was a hypothetical fuel repeatedly promised by political leaders to build public support for the fossil fuel:
There’s no such thing as “clean natural gas.” It’s a fossil fuel, and it releases climate-disrupting greenhouse gases all the way up and down the chain of production, from the wellhead to the burners on your stovetop or in your furnace.
This is especially true for LNG. In order to ship it, energy companies must first chill the gas to -160°C (-256°F) in giant coastal plants that are essentially industrial-size freezers. The process consumes vast quantities of energy. After it’s shipped across the sea, companies then return the LNG to its gaseous state before shipping it off to customers.
Because of these extra steps, LNG carries a whopper of an energy and carbon footprint compared to unadulterated natural gas.
Both natural gas producers and transportation companies conceal the true climate impact of LNG. This week New York Times reported that shipping produces as much carbon dioxide as all of America’s coal plants combined. The newspaper explained why regulation of shipping emissions by the obscure but powerful International Maritime Organization (IMO) is so ineffective:
The I.M.O. is a regulatory body that is run in concert with the industry it regulates. Shipbuilders, oil companies, miners, chemical manufacturers and others with huge financial stakes in commercial shipping are among the delegates appointed by many member nations. They sometimes even speak on behalf of governments…
Next week, the organization is scheduled to enact its first greenhouse gas rules since Paris — regulations that do not cut emissions, have no enforcement mechanism and leave key details shrouded in secrecy…
Although some suggest LNG powered ships could moderate transportation harm, the International Council on Clean Transportation determined there is no climate benefit from tankers burning LNG, regardless of ship engine technology.
The Natural Resources Defense Council states:
Historically, gas has been considered a “bridge fuel”—cleaner and with lower carbon dioxide emissions than coal or oil—and a potential tool to help address climate change.
However, LNG is neither clean nor particularly low in emissions. In addition, the massive investments in new infrastructure to support this industry, including pipelines, liquefaction facilities, export terminals, and tankers, lock in fossil fuel dependence, making the transition to actual low-carbon and no-carbon energy even more difficult.
Our analysis shows that using LNG to replace other, dirtier fossil fuels, is not an effective strategy to reduce climate-warming emissions...