Climate Change

BC’s government partnered in greenwashing

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:



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Categories: Climate Change

9 replies »

    • For those of us unfamiliar with ancient Greek folklore:

      Cassandra or Kassandra in Greek mythology was a Trojan priestess dedicated to the god Apollo and fated by him to utter true prophecies but never to be believed. In modern usage her name is employed as a rhetorical device to indicate a person whose accurate prophecies, generally of impending disaster, are not believed. (Source: Wikipedia)

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  1. When NDP, Conservative, United, Liberal, governments think about green washing our ‘oikos’, our house in eco-nomy and eco-logy, do they think that a green house is what we are asking for?

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  2. I would give #8, a big fail.

    In fact the NDP, like the BC Liberals and the Socreds before were master practitioners of “rubber on asphalt” politics.

    Electric cars are mostly out of reach of the common person and there is debate that their manufacturer creases about the same pollution as spewed by the current lot of belch-fires.

    The key is rail transportation and regional rail transportation which is all but non existent in BC and the current NDP have a see no rail, hear no rail, speak no rail philosophy.

    Oh the government is spending $11 billion to extend the photo-op ready SkyTrain light metro system a mere 21.7 km, but that is about it. Those rising cement columns and guideways make good photo-ops at election time, but reality is a bitch because despite the vast sums of money pored into the system (aprox. $30 billion) there is no evidence of modal shift from car to transit.

    The E&N rots away and the paltry $3 billion to rehab, upgrade and provide a modern regional passenger railway is ignored. Ditto for the attempts to reinstate the the Vancouver to Chillwicak interurban using modern vehicles and track upgrades, all for $1.5 billion.

    The NDP can Greenwash all they want, to the “Eye” they have failed big time!

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    • Not to mention the North Shore, where movement of people, cars, trucks and buses is stopped if the Ironworkers’ Memorial bridge closes.

      Worth remembering that the last lane crossing Burrard Inlet was added more than 62 years ago.

      Since then, population growth in North and West Van, along with much increased through-traffic from Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and Whistler/Howe Sound and vehicular movements from the Port of Vancouver have made gridlock a common occurrence. Since there are no firm plans to address this problem, nothing will change for at least a decade.

      Evil Eye is correct when he argues that the choice of an expensive, noisy, elevated transit system that almost no one else in the world will buy has exhausted funds that could pay for a much wider network of light rail transit. That would take more people out of their motor vehicles.

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      • The “Eye” has been told, for about $1.5 billion, which includes improved signalling and track adjustments, we could have a 1 hour Vancouver to Whistler passenger service , with a 30 minute service peak hour service or two trains per hour per direction, from Caulfield to downtown Vancouver.

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