Canada should work with its allies and potential customers to receive credit for the global emissions reduction benefits of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG), says a prominent Canadian energy advocate.
The equivalent of all Canadian GHG emissions could be eliminated by helping Asia switch 20 per cent of its coal fired power stations to natural gas, says Shannon Joseph, chair of Energy for a Secure Future, citing a recent report published by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
“Canada could help deliver 680 megatonnes of emissions reductions, and that’s more than our whole country,” she says.
“We should do it and shout it from the rooftops. We should move forward with LNG as an energy and emission solution.”
Receiving credit for lowering emissions with LNG could come through what’s known as Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, but Joseph says Canada need not wait for these carbon accounting rules to be settled before pressing forward.
“We need to assert, confidently, the environmental value we would be delivering to the world,” she says.
Article 6 conceptually allows countries to collaborate with each other on emissions reduction goals by trading carbon credits. In theory, for example that could allow Canada receive credit for emissions reductions achieved in China by using Canadian LNG to displace coal.
The Paris Agreement signatories have not yet agreed on the rules to make Article 6 a reality. Meanwhile, driven by Asia, last year the world consumed more coal – and produced more emissions from that coal – than ever before, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The IEA says switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation reduces emissions by half on average. LNG from Canada can deliver an even bigger decrease, reducing emissions by up to 62 per cent, according to a June 2020 study published in the Journal for Cleaner Production.
Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, world LNG demand was expected to nearly double by 2040. The market has become even tighter as countries work to exclude Russian energy, says a report by Energy for a Secure Future.
With or without Article 6, Energy for a Secure Future is calling on Canada to work with its potential customers in Europe and Asia to recognize and credit the environmental benefits of Canadian LNG displacing higher emitting energy.
“Canada’s allies have come here asking for energy, and we should work directly with them to find a way to have our environmental contributions recognized,” says Joseph, adding the U.S. has moved ahead without credits, more than doubling LNG exports since 2019.
Canada has yet to export significant volumes of LNG after years of regulatory delay and cancelled projects – but things are changing.
LNG Canada in Kitimat B.C. will be the first major export facility to operate, starting in 2025. Woodfibre LNG near Squamish begins construction this fall with the aim to start operating in 2027. Other proposed projects include the Indigenous-led Cedar LNG facility in Kitimat and Ksi Lisims LNG near Prince Rupert.
Meanwhile, India, China and Japan remain consumers of Russian oil and gas, according to the 2023 Statistical Review of World Energy.
“We are trying to help our allies meet the challenges they are facing. One of these is ensuring that their populations – sometimes of over a billion people – can even access modern forms of energy,” Joseph says.
“If Canada wants to be relevant and to lead, we have to come to the table with solutions to this question, alongside the environmental one. LNG is our biggest card.”
India will have the world’s largest population by 2028 – climbing to 1.45 billion and rising to 1.67 billion people by 2040, according to the United Nations Population Fund.
“Currently India is the fourth largest importer of LNG [in the world] and demand is expected to grow massively as 270 million people move up the socioeconomic ladder,” says Victor Thomas, CEO of the Canada-India Business Council.
Canada’s potential to deliver LNG to India “just makes good sense when you look at the geopolitical fractures that have occurred since 2022,” he says, noting the U.S. has recognized the opportunity and is taking action to form new business relationships in India.
Burning wood and other biomass for heat and cooking is still common in the South Asian country, while coal produces around three quarters of India’s electricity. According to the IEA, by 2040 India’s total energy demand will be 70 per cent higher than it was in 2019.
“Transitioning from wood burning to LNG is a massive emissions reduction,” says Thomas. “It’s a safe and reliable opportunity. People are looking for a country like Canada to be able to provide that.”
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