One of Canada's Biggest Contributions to Reducing Global Emissions Can Be Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas

Canada can contribute to lowering global emissions by exporting LNG cover

While global liquefied natural gas (LNG) demand is projected to grow significantly through 2040, British Columbian Premier David Eby’s recent comments seem to question the notion of moving forward with new B.C. liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities and the corresponding opportunities for economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

According to the First Nations LNG Alliance, the Premier was asked in the B.C. legislature about the delay of regulatory approval for Cedar LNG. Eby cited “complex issues” of climate targets and economic development with First Nations, and said the world is transitioning away from fossil fuels.

But we absolutely can balance economic development with environmental leadership – that is the Canadian way. And the world is not moving away from fossil fuels.

Global demand for coal, oil, wind, solar and natural gas are at all-time highs, while LNG demand specifically is expected to see growth at a significantly higher rate. All of these things are happening simultaneously, and Canada has a real opportunity to help reduce global emissions by exporting its responsibly produced natural gas.

Shell’s latest LNG Outlook found that global LNG demand reached 397 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) in 2022 and is expected to grow to 700 mtpa by 2040 – an increase of 76%. The report also states that more investment into liquefaction export projects is required to avoid a significant supply-demand gap expected to emerge by the late 2020s.

What countries are going to fill that void in global LNG markets? Will it be Indigenous-led projects like Cedar LNG and Ksi Lisims LNG in British Columbia? Or will it be Qatar, Mexico, Mozambique, Argentina, Australia, Nigeria and other producers that are often much less transparent, less environmentally responsible, and less reliable than Canada?

The right choice should be abundantly clear for Canada, B.C. and Premier Eby. 

Japan, South Korea and Germany are just a few countries that want Canadian-made LNG, many of whom have visited our country hoping to obtain new future LNG supplies. These countries prefer Canada over other suppliers because of our shared values and overall reliability as one of the few major democratic energy exporters worldwide.

Japanese LNG imports top five countries 2021

Japan’s Ambassador to Canada Kanji Yamanouchi reiterated his country’s desire for Canadian energy in an online webinar just this month.

“I really believe Canada can and should play a very important key role to support the energy situation, not only just in Japan and South Korea, but also the entire world. The world is waiting for Canada’s significant role in many ways,” Yamanouchi said.

Yamanouchi’s remarks come not long after Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Canada in January of 2023, pressing for more oil and natural gas to replace Russian fuels.

For the Japanese, British Columbia’s shipping distances to Asia are much shorter than those from the U.S. Gulf Coast or some parts of the Middle East. Shorter distances mean fewer transportation costs, less fuel burned and lower volumes of GHGs emitted.

And then there is Germany and Europe. Rewind a few more months to August 2022 when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz came to Canada asking for LNG. 

"We would really like Canada to export more [LNG] to Europe," Scholz said on CBC.

"Even if these exports are not directly going to Germany or to Europe, it helps because there is a lack of supply," he continued.

Germany wants and prefers Canadian-made LNG to other supply sources abroad, says Olaf Scholz

Perceived by some to be snubbed by Canada, Scholz turned to Qatar to fulfill some of his country’s energy needs, signing a multi-billion-dollar deal to buy 2 mtpa of LNG over 15 years starting in 2026.

This Germany-Qatar LNG deal was a huge loss for Canadians and Indigenous Peoples. And, if Canada doesn’t stop dragging its feet on LNG development, it won’t be the last time we lose out on the incredible economic and climate benefits of a healthy Canadian LNG export sector.

Let’s also not forget we had several major LNG project proposals in B.C. in 2012, and now we have just one major project under construction. We also missed the board in the late 1970s and early 1980s when we dragged our feet on building out our local natural gas export infrastructure.

While Canada slows regulatory decisions that would bring some of the world’s cleanest LNG to global markets, other countries are full-speed ahead with developing their LNG export facilities. In many cases, these ”other” producers have concerning records regarding government transparency, social progress, human rights and environmental protection.

But what about emission reductions?

First Nations LNG Alliance supporter says LNG will help reduce global emissions

Premier Eby need not look further than the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office’s report on Cedar LNG. The BCEAO stated that the project would fight climate change due to a net reduction in global greenhouse gases (GHGs) despite an increase at the provincial level.

A 2020 study by researchers at Stanford, the University of Calgary and University of British Columbia found that substituting Canadian LNG for coal-fired power and heat generation in China could reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 64%.

Another recent report by Wood Mackenzie found that Canadian LNG exports to Asia could cut GHG emissions equivalent to removing all 36 million vehicles on Canada’s roads - and then some.

Yes, you read that right. Emissions reductions equivalent to every vehicle in Canada.

The International Energy Agency has sworn by coal-to-gas switching as an effective way to reduce global emissions. The Paris-based organization highlighted in a 2019 report:

“Since 2010, coal-to-gas switching has saved around 500 million tonnes of CO2 - an effect equivalent to putting an extra 200 million EVs running on zero-carbon electricity on the road over the same period.”

For perspective, about 20 million EVs are currently on the roads worldwide.

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida wants Canadian LNG as a new supply source

Premier Eby must see the opportunity presented by simultaneously reducing global emissions while providing Indigenous communities with the means to generate own-source revenues and attain economic reconciliation – one that we should pursue with all our resources. With global natural gas consumption levels expected to reach new record highs for years to come, it only makes sense that those supplies come from the most stable, reliable and responsible producers.

For the sake of global emission reductions, Indigenous economic reconciliation and international energy security, Premier Eby must choose Canada. That means expediently approving Cedar LNG and other projects like it to come.