The NDP government of British Columbia says the province’s CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 “is one the strongest climate plans on the continent.” If that is true, the continent is in more trouble than most of us know.
A new organization is arguing for change.
BC Climate Emergency Campaign pursuaded more than 500 representatives of various organizations to sign an open letter calling on the BC government to confront the climate emergency by implementing ten urgent climate actions.
Premier Horgan announced in July 2021 that governments had joined with Shell Canada to fund the new B.C. Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy. According to BC Climate Emergency Campaign:
The primary “flagship” institution created to purportedly advance low-carbon technology—the Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy—is a joint initiative with Shell Canada, and its research agenda, with a focus on carbon capture and storage and a hydrogen strategy, appears tailored to this fossil fuel corporation.
Shell is promoted as a founding partner of CICE. Shell Global reported 2021 revenues were $261 billion, up 45 percent from 2020. In the first nine months of 2022, income attributable to Shell plc shareholders increased by 269 percent over the same period of 2021.
It is easy to understand why fossil fuel companies spend large sums on greenwashing. Politicians who care about human survival ought not to be assisting.
These are the areas of focus that CICE promises:
- Low carbon hydrogen,
- Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS),
- Bio / synthetic fuels,
- Renewable natural gas (RNG),
- Battery energy storage.
Low carbon hydrogen:
The fossil fuel industry has been promoting hydrogen produced from natural gas and supported by carbon capture and storage. But the process to convert methane (fossil gas) to hydrogen and carbon dioxide takes much energy and that is generally provided by burning more natural gas.
Blue hydrogen as a strategy only works to the extent it is possible to store carbon dioxide long-term indefinitely into the future without leakage back to the atmosphere.‘Blue’ hydrogen may be worse than gas and coal, say researchers
Carbon capture, utilization and storage
According to Food & Water Watch, carbon capture “is a centerpiece of the oil and gas industry’s greenwashing efforts.”
Greenpeace called carbon capture a scam that aims to swindle money from the public purse:
Since the oil industry — Shell, Chevron, and others — were not prepared to actually slow oil production to halt global heating, and since they had no intention of aiming for zero carbon emissions, they invented “net zero.” The “net” requires that we subtract some carbon from total emissions to create the illusion of “zero” emissions. Thus, the patriarchs of petroleum profiteering came up with “carbon capture,” a deception that has netted them billions of dollars and euros in public money.
Bruce Robertson of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis writes that carbon capture has a long history… of failure:
Carbon capture and storage is an old technology, first commercialized in the 1970s. Back then it was called enhanced oil recovery, because the carbon dioxide recovered from oil and gas production was injected into depleted oil and gas reservoirs to re-pressurize them and extract more hydrocarbons.
As the climate change movement gained momentum, the oil and gas industry wisely rebranded enhanced oil recovery as a “climate-friendly” process with a new name: carbon capture utilization and storage. Today, over 70 percent of carbon capture projects are, in fact, enhanced oil recovery projects used to produce more oil and/or gas, resulting in yet more greenhouse gas emissions.
Washington Post reports the main beneficiary of CCUS funding in the USA is the oil industry, and the record of carbon capture is billions of wasted tax dollars
Yet after years of underwhelming results in carbon capture experimentation, this surge of cash strikes many climate scholars as predominantly a gift to fossil fuel, chemical and industrial agriculture companies seeking a lucrative route to rebrand as “green.” The vastly increased tax credit, which lobbyists of every major oil company pursued, will propel a technology that has failed to deliver in several prominent trials.
Bio / synthetic fuels
World Resource Institute states that when natural forests are felled to generate bioenergy or to replace the farm fields that were diverted to growing biofuels, greenhouse gas emissions go up.
There are good alternatives to bioenergy made from dedicated land. For example, solar photovoltaic (PV) cells convert sunlight directly into energy that people can use, much like bioenergy, but with greater efficiency and less water use. On three-quarters of the world’s land, solar PV systems today can generate more than 100 times the usable energy per hectare as bioenergy.Biofuels Are Not a Green Alternative to Fossil Fuels
Synthetic fuel “solutions” based on hydrogen are invariably less worthwhile than using electricity directly. Writing in Forbes, technology journalist James Morris says synthetic fuels are even less likely to solve the climate change problem than hydrogen. He asserts that hydrogen is not a green fuel at all, “it is the oil and gas industry trying to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world.”
There’s zero advantage to making synthetic fuels if you’re not using renewable energy to create the hydrogen and then combine the hydrogen with carbon to create fuels. The whole benefit of synthetic fuels is that they’re carbon neutral, and introducing carbon in the production phases ruins that.Synthetic Fuels Won’t Replace EVs
Renewable natural gas
More greenwashing. The label “renewable natural gas” conceals what this fuel really is. It is methane, just like regular natural gas. Industry claims that RNG is a climate solution is dangerous.
Battery energy storage
I won’t argue against spending money to research energy storage. It should have been made a priority long ago and received a large part of the $14.4 billion (2022 dollars) in royalty reduction credits awarded BC’s fossil gas producers since 2007. Right now, UBC’s Next Generation Research and Training Centre is asking for charity for its work.
Environmentally harmful subsidies (EHS) are government actions that by design or effect accelerate the production or consumption of natural resources or undermine broader ecosystems supporting planetary health. While data availability on the scale of these subsidies varies widely across sectors and countries, even based on incomplete estimates they measure at least USD 1.9 trillion a year or about 2 percent of global GDP.Protecting Nature by Reforming Environmentally Harmful Subsidies
In 2021, the NDP announced that government and Shell had each committed $35 million to fund CICE and the federal government had promised up to $35 million for innovative projects. However, CICE’s Three Year Strategic Plan and Budget paints a different picture than the government’s press release:
Categories: Climate Change