Proposed plans to expand the unconventional gas industry in BC will dramatically increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making the province’s climateaction goals impossible to meet. Even though unconventional natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel, the process of extraction (fracking) and exporting (including: liquefaction, shipping, re-gasifying, and piping the gas to its final destination) needs to be factored in.

Considering these ‘full life-cycle’ emissions, some critics have argued unconventional natural gas extraction could lead to higher pollution rates than other fossil fuels. A study by the Pembina Institute found that if five LNG proposals become operational, it could result in almost as much carbon emissions than what the Alberta oil sands currently produce (click on image to see the Pembina Institute's full infographic).

Despite the Province’s claims that LNG will reduce emissions, developing the LNG industry in BC will contribute to global climate change and continue the world’s reliance on fossil fuels. 

Related Resources

A Clear Look at BC LNG: Energy security, environmental implications and economic potential

David Hughes | Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives | May 2015

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the west coast of Canada have been heralded as economic salvation for the province of British Columbia. This report undertakes a reality check that reveals several major problems with this narrative, both in the stewardship of finite non-renewable resources by provincial and federal governments, and in the environmental implications of large-scale development. 

The Cleanest LNG In the World? How to slash carbon pollution from wellhead to waterline in BC

James Glave & Jeremy Moorhouse | Clean Energy Canada | 2013

The provincial government has stated that BC’s natural gas industry will be the “cleanest in the world”. This discussion paper questions Christy Clark’s claim to “clean energy” and analyzes what policies government would need to employ, and what practices industry would need to adopt, in order to achieve this status. To meet the goal of “cleanest LNG in the world”, the report outlines three requirements. To start, gas companies should extract from shale gas deposits that have the lowest carbon dioxide content. Second, supply compression equipment with electricity – do not burn unconventional gas to supply the LNG facilities. Third, gas companies would need to be use renewable energy sources for additional power requirements at LNG facilities.

BC LNG Proposals and GHG Emissions

The Pembina Institute | 2013

Pembina provides preliminary modeling that shows even modest development of unconventional natural gas will substantially increase pollution in the province. They conclude that BC’s climate reduction targets cannot be achieved if we continue to increase unconventional gas extraction. 

Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Systems

Howarth, et al. | Background Paper for the National Climate Assessment | 2012

According to the 2012 United States Climate Assessment, methane is an important contributor to global climate change. This peer-reviewed background paper reports that natural gas systems in the US are the largest source of human-caused methane emissions. 

Fracking in BC: Integrating climate change issues

Neil Thomson & Alison Shaw | Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions | 2011

This report outlines several key areas that must be monitored and regulated in order to develop unconventional natural gas in BC. It concludes that BC should consider conducting a comprehensive study of fracking with a particular focus on climate change impacts, and further recommend that the province should look at unconventional gas as a stepping-stone to move toward a low carbon economy. 

[See also the Institute’s 2010 publication, Shale Gas and Climate Targets: Can They Be Reconciled?]

Lock in Jobs, Not Pollution

Clean Energy Canada | James Glave and Jeremy Moorhouse | January 2014

Clean Energy Canada outlines that by requiring proponents to use renewable energies, BC will benefit from permanent jobs, reduce the province’s carbon footprint, and would help leave a clean-energy legacy in our communities. Renewable energy for BC LNG could lead to 400 permanent jobs in Northern BC, a 33% reduction in climate pollution, and 2% increase in LNG selling price.