The betrayal of the BC New Democratic Party (NDP)/Green government's approval of the 40 billion dollar LNG Canada mega-project sunk in one month later when they presented their “Clean BC” climate plan. What kind of plan is 25% short of its initial goal to begin with - as they are in their goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030? As Wilderness Committee organizer Peter McCartney succinctly pointed out, their climate plan has “an LNG-sized gap.”
We aren't supposed to worry though, because the government has given itself two years to try and figure out how to make it work. What miracle are they expecting in the next two years?
“Biggest Capital Project in B.C. History...and Probably the Most Climate Polluting As Well”
Barry Saxifrage has done some excellent reporting and graph production for the National Observer on the project. He summarizes, “The LNG Canada project is massive. It will sprawl from new fracked gas wells in northern B.C., across the coast mountains via the hotly-contested, 650 km 'Coastal GasLink' pipeline, to a new liquefaction terminal in Kitimat. From there, the gas will be loaded onto supertankers and shipped to Asia. The LNG terminal is designed to be built in two phases, each of which will produce 13 million tonnes of liquid natural gas. The first phase is now going ahead.
If both phases get built, it will become the 'biggest capital project in B.C. history.' And probably the most climate polluting as well, with projections for up to 10 million tonnes of climate pollution (MtCO2) per year. For scale, that's more than the emissions from all passenger cars, trucks and SUVs in the province today.”
They Knew, and They Know
Let's be clear. The provincial government approved the LNG Canada mega-project knowing full well two vital facts:
- The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently issued a dire report that calls for governments to reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels or face catastrophic consequences
- The LNG Canada project makes it virtually impossible to do this and put B.C.in outer space as far as meeting its 2040 and 2050 targets of 60 percent and 80 percent emission reductions.
Saxifrage has probably the most damning observation of all: "When it comes to calculating the project's benefits, the government uses numbers that assume phase two will be built — $40 billion in spending and $22 billion in revenue. But when it comes to calculating climate pollution, and what to do about it, the government uses numbers that assume phase two will not be built."
LNG is Terrible for BC
The world's best and broadest scientific consensus has sounded the emergency alarm..and the provincial government is asking us to check back in a couple of years. Have they already forgotten the global warming aggravated wildfires last summer in BC? They burned more than 1.2 million hectares of the province, eight times more than the 10-year-average.
What will they tell us this summer?
In December 2018 issue of Fire This Time we outlined some of the major concerns of LNG production:
- There is significant opposition from Indigenous Nations whose territory the plant and associated pipeline would be built on
- “Fracking,” which is used to extract LNG from underground, wastes massive amounts of fresh water, pollutes the land, releases incredibly harmful greenhouse gases, and causes spikes in earthquakes
- In many cases, communities see a short-term boom in construction growth which inflates the cost of living, and then they are quickly left with relatively few long-term jobs and the health consequences of proximity industrial production
- Domestic gas prices end up increasing as the new LNG supply is used almost exclusively for export.
These concerns were once again reinforced when the B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission recently concluded that a trio of significant earthquakes in the area around Fort St. John at the end of November were caused by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) LNG-related fracking operation.
Adding insult to injury is that CNRL predicted its operations would cause earthquakes in its pre-assessment report, “but events larger than magnitude three were not expected.” So the government and corporations are already moving forward with fracking projects its knows will cause earthquakes!
Wildfires. Earthquakes. Who Benefits?
The LNG Canada project received more than $5.35 billion in tax-payer funded financial incentives from the BC government. They include A break on the carbon tax, the elimination of the LNG income tax, cheaper electricity rates, a PST exemption, and a natural gas tax credit which gives companies an additional three percent corporate income tax cut.
The only person besides BC NDP Premier John Horgan who seemed genuinely delighted with the “Clean BC” plan was Greg D’Avignon, president and chief executive of the Business Council of B.C. “If you use too much stick, you might reach your [greenhouse gas] reductions because the capital will have fled. That’s not a threat, it’s a reality,” he said, “We think it [Clean BC] will be a lot of carrots." Of course, it will be - for corporations. D'Avignon intervened directly with the BC government to make sure of it.
No one is saying that the tasks which confront current governments are easy. After decades of willful neglect by previous Liberal governments and their corporate allies to maximize profits at the expense of the planet – humanity faces massive, decisive challenges in the next decade. However, this is no secret. Anyone holding public office has no excuse to be ignorant of the facts of the unfolding climate crisis, or of being timid in confronting them. Corporations are using everything in their power to make sure their interests are maintained. We, the poor and working people must work together to hold BC government and their executives accountable for their decisions and their consequences.
Currently, that means educating, organizing and mobilizing to stop the LNG Canada mega-project and the expansion of the LNG industry in B.C. The science is clear; the alternatives are there – and so is the urgency. The next few months will be crucial as the corporations will try and rush the project forward. We need to be clear that LNG is not a “green” alternative, and that we are willing to organize to oppose its reckless and dangerous expansion.
Follow Thomas on Twitter: @thomasdavies59
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