Climate Change

BC’s GHG emissions worse than we’ve been told

Environmental Defense Fund

EDF, a 65-year-old non-profit environmental advocacy group, reports that cutting methane emissions is the fastest way to slow the rate of global warming.

Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere. Even though CO2 has a longer-lasting effect, methane sets the pace for warming in the near term.

Much of our knowledge of methane released by oil and gas producers comes not from the industry, federal and provincial government ministries, or Canada Energy Regulator—theoretically, protectors of the public interest—but from non-governmental organizations like EDF:

Until recently, little was known about where leaks were occurring, or the best way to fix them. In 2012, we kicked off a research series to better pinpoint leaks — and to find solutions. It is the largest body of peer-reviewed research on the issue.

synthesis of the research found that the U.S. oil and gas industry was emitting at least 13 million metric tons of methane a year — about 60% more than the Environmental Protection Agency estimated at the time. The volume represents enough natural gas to fuel 10 million homes.

Today we have much better data on where the methane is coming from and how to prevent it. Ground-based measurement tools along with a growing number of satellites — including one being launched by our MethaneSAT subsidiary — are making it faster and cheaper than ever to locate, measure and reduce emissions.

In fact, the International Energy Agency estimates that worldwide, the oil and gas industry can achieve a 75% reduction using technologies available today — two-thirds of it at no net cost.

A 2021 study by Carleton University scientists examined sources of methane. By Dr. David Tyner of Carleton’s Energy & Emissions Research Lab and Dr. Matthew Johnson, Research Professor in Energy and Combustion Generated Pollutant Emissions, the paper found that methane emissions from natural gas fracking in BC are about double what the government has assumed. Methods used by the BC government to measure fugitive emissions were inadequate:

The oil and gas sector is a dominant source of anthropogenic methane emissions, and several recent studies suggest that its contribution to current inventories is underestimated…

Combined data suggest methane emissions are 1.6−2.2 times current federal inventory estimates…

More than half of emissions were attributed to three main sources: tanks (24%), reciprocating compressors (15%), and unlit flares (13%).

Traditional on-site optical gas imaging (OGI) compared to more comprehensive measurement systems:

Another paper, written by David Hughes for Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives – BC Office, discusses the province’s brainless ambition to expand production of fracked natural gas:

There are serious questions and considerations surrounding the current enthusiasm for developing a Canadian LNG export industry which are examined in this report.

These include the impact of increasing gas production on emissions; the land disturbance and water consumption from the drilling required; the questionable benefits to taxpayers given reduced revenue from gas production royalties and the cost of incentives offered by government; and the fact that full-cycle analysis indicates that LNG exports to Asia will increase global emissions over the critical next few decades.

A further consideration is higher long-term gas prices for Canadians if the lowest-cost portion of remaining resources is exported as LNG.

In recent times, the wellbeing and lives of many North Americans have been threatened directly by wildfires and indirectly by dangerous gas and suspended carbon particles within the inescapable smoke. There is a direct connection between a changing climate and extensive destruction by fire.

National Geographic, The science connecting wildfires to climate change:

Climate change has inexorably stacked the deck in favor of bigger and more intense fires across the American West over the past few decades, science has incontrovertibly shown. Increasing heat, changing rain and snow patterns, shifts in plant communities, and other climate-related changes have vastly increased the likelihood that fires will start more often and burn more intensely and widely than they have in the past.

As fires continue burning, left column will rise significantly.

Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions of all greenhouse gases, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees will be beyond reach.

Governments of Canada and three western provinces are committed to increasing fossil fuel production, despite science that says we must begin to reduce GHG emissions immediately. NPR reports words of  Maisa Rojas Corradi, an IPCC author and climate scientist at the University of Chile:

Richard Rood, climate scientist at University of Michigan, considered whether or not climate would normalize if the world stopped emitting carbon dioxide immediately.

The simple answer is no.

Once we release the carbon dioxide stored in the fossil fuels we burn, it accumulates in and moves among the atmosphere, the oceans, the land and the plants and animals of the biosphere. The released carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years… But on time spans relevant to humans, once released the carbon dioxide is in our environment essentially forever.

Canada’s Industrial and political leaders have gone well beyond ignoring the precautionary principle. They are now following a considered path to disaster. Caring nothing about the future, they care instead about reaping financial rewards today.

I am not a religious person but do pay attention to wisdom found in the Christian bible. This verse comes to mind:

No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Our country’s leaders serve mammon.

6 replies »

  1. I’m sure the oil and gas industry knew what the methane escape numbers really were but gave out false reports anyway just to make themselves look not so bad. So, what’s the penalty for fudging the numbers? Bet there isn’t any and the general public doesn’t really know the consequences of methane.

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  2. just in case your readers are interested in additional scientific papers on this issue, I would highly recommend Atherton et al. (in Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 12405–12420, 2017 – it’s open source, i.e. not behind a paywall, covering fracking in BC) and J. Werring (David Suzuki Foundation (2018) on Fugitives in our Midst (Montney Basin in BC) from oil and gas wells and MacKay et al. (2021) on methane emissions in Canada (Nature Scientific Reports https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-87610-3 – open access). Overall a very frightening picture that has been completely ignored by policy makers.

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  3. Our own lying hypocrite politicians and Captains of Industry of Canada who really are in charge here in the west , won’t clean our own backyard or their act to be able to set a bar for others in the the world to follow and to be able to use that as a carrot and more of a a big stick to get the other worse actors on board. Our selfish cowards in Ottawa and provinces like BC live for their own selfish day. Not ours.

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  4. Well I do suppose the more our politicians continue with their bad poiitics and selfish disregard for the environment which is our life support system, then we just have to keep upping the level of pushback and accountability. Make them remember who they actually are supposed too represent. It will be the only way I’m afraid.
    Almost seems what we’re doing now is not enough. The politicians are getting worse and more stubborn and more arrogant. The idiots only create more pushback because of their continuing malfeasance and corrupt attitudes. Our future is our kids future. More so for them. Look at the mess the selfish politicians have caused already. It may be a tough slog to change things.

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