DEBATE: Canadian Liquefied Natural Gas & Global Sustainability Efforts

Debate - Canadian liquefied natural gas and sustainability

Do liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities in British Columbia align with global sustainability efforts? And if so, how exactly is LNG a better alternative for the world’s energy needs – especially low-emission LNG from Canada’s world-class facilities?

Join Cody Battershill, Founder and Chief Spokesperson of Canada Action, as he debates Andrew Dumbrill, Canada Campaigner with “Say No to LNG” on The Mike Smyth Show of CKNW 980 out of Vancouver, British Columbia.


Or, keep reading for the full transcript between Mike, Cody, Andrew, and callers below. Also see:


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Mike: All right. Let's talk about LNG production in British Columbia now. Liquefied natural gas.

Update for you on the giant LNG Canada project. Taking a look at a headline in the Financial Post. LNG Canada set to start shipping around the world within two years. The giant export facility in Kitimat, British Columbia, now 85% complete.

This is a massive, massive project. $40 billion, one of the largest private sector investments in Canadian history. And, of course, the company says, look, LNG, liquefied natural gas, yes, it's a fossil fuel, but look, this is actually good for the environment.

It's actually a good thing. Why is that?

Well, if we can sell our LNG to Asia and displace some of their coal-burning capacity there, LNG burns cleaner. You're actually ahead of the game. This is actually good for the planet.

Now, you'll get an argument from environmental groups over that. We've got both sides of it here for you. What an awesome panel we have for you coming up here in just a moment.

Have a listen here first. Now, let's go back in time. This is former Premier John Horgan back when this LNG Canada project was approved. And here he is touting how it's environmentally responsible. Have a listen.

Horgan: We put in place guidelines for LNG Canada, making it the cleanest LNG in the world. LNG bunkering in the Port of Vancouver will mean that we can reduce emissions in the marine fleets of countries around the world in my discussions with the cruise ship industry.

Mike: All right, let's discuss now with my guests. We've got an awesome panel on this for you, both sides of it.

Andrew Dumbrill is Canada campaigner. He's with the campaign called "Say No to LNG." Andrew, thank you for coming on today.

Andrew: Thanks for the invitation. Good to be here.

Mike: Yeah, I appreciate it a lot. Also on the line, Cody Battershill. Cody is the founder of Canada Action, which is a pro oil and gas group in Alberta. Hey, Cody, thanks for coming on today.

Cody: Hey, Mike, thanks for having me. And it's great to be chatting with Andrew today.

Mike: Yeah, I appreciate both of you guys being here. Andrew, let me go to you first. Tell me about your campaign here. Say no to LNG. Why do you want people to say no to this?

Andrew: So, you know, people can check it out at And it's a very transparent website with where the information comes from.

And in order to answer that question, I think we have to kind of back up a bit to look at the climate crisis. And given what we've all experienced this year in Canada with wildfires, I think it's pretty obvious that it is a crisis, is an emergency, it is a short-term problem, and it requires major investments in renewable energy and fast action.

But I think that's really a key piece is the short term around dealing with the climate crisis, given what we've seen this year. Because if you look at LNG, especially as a marine fuel, and that's the space that I work in, it's shipping and marine engines and marine fuel, LNG doesn't significantly, if at all, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mainly because it's predominantly methane, which is 80 times or maybe slightly higher, more of a climate forcer or climate-warming gas than CO2.

Very potent. Okay, and just getting back to this short-term aspect, and then I'll stop, is that when I say it's 80 times more potent than CO2, that's on a 20-year global warming potential.

A lot of studying of this gas, mainly by industry, is looking at 100-year global warming potential. And that number reduces significantly. The thing is, methane has all its impact in the first ten to twelve years it's in the atmosphere. So that's why we have to look at the short-term aspect of it.

Mike: Okay. Let's go to Cody. Cody, what do you say to Andrew on that point?

Cody: Well, the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, talks about how liquefied natural gas is going to be significantly better for the climate than coal power.

We know that around the world, people are focused on energy security, turning on the lights, having food, developing and supporting their families. In many developing countries, China and India both building record amounts of coal power and using record amounts of coal power.

So getting LNG to those developing countries is a win for immediately reducing emissions. We've really got to think big here. We got to think globally.

And then second, trying to get some of these big shipping companies off of bunker fuel oil, turning that and using natural gas instead. It's been considered by many shipping experts, many marine industry bodies, as a lower emission opportunity.

And so a lot of new ships are being built with LNG. The Haisla have got some tugboats. There's lots of new marine opportunities to reduce our impact immediately.

And we need to say yes to LNG. And we have, we got LNG Canada under construction. We've got Cedar LNG, Ksi Lisims, Woodfibre, Tilbury, a lot of really important projects for Indigenous communities, for all Canadians' prosperity. And just there's a lot of progress happening here.

So I just reject the fear-mongering from Andrew around... We need to be pragmatic and balanced. And I think that that conversation should prevail.

Mike: Okay, let me get Andrew's response on this, because Andrew, we hear this a lot whenever we talk about LNG. Yes, it's a fossil fuel. Yes, you could contribute to climate change, you could certainly argue. But it's a cleaner burning fuel than coal and oil is. It not?

Andrew: Getting back to the climate impact of LNG and looking at its 20-year global warming potential and its full life cycle assessment of that fuel, those studies show that there is very little benefit to the climate from using LNG, and it gets back again to this short term.

We have to look at these fuels in the short-term, especially a methane-based fuel like LNG, because that's when it does all its damage. It stays in the atmosphere for ten to twelve years. So if we're looking at investing in alternatives, we have to look longer term than that.

In the shipping sector, ships are built to last for 30 or 40 years. And so you want to invest in alternatives for the life of that ship. Okay.

Yesterday, the International Energy Agency came out with a very convincing report. Basically…

Cody: Andrew, what's the alternative to LNG, though? What's the alternative today that's technologically feasible?  Are you talking about battery-powered boats in the shipping sector?

Andrew: It's a good question. The first thing we need in the shipping sector is sector-based targets that are in line with the Paris Agreement.

It's important that the IMO just came out this year with new targets with an ambition of reducing 30% by 2030 and 80% by 2040. We need targets such as those.

Unfortunately, those aren't Paris line, but we need targets in Canada to create a culture of innovation around new fuels. Go ahead. First is the targets.

Mike: Go ahead, Cody. Just real quickly and then we got to fit a break in here. Go ahead.

Cody: So I'm really proud to celebrate progress in reducing emissions in our marine sector by using liquefied natural gas. I do not believe Andrew has a feasible, affordable, reliable opportunity that's an alternative.

So simply to say that we should not be making progress reducing emissions, switching from bunker fuel to liquefied natural gas, it's not a feasible, realistic or pragmatic approach to simply say we can't do this and there's no alternative today.

So I'm really proud to celebrate Canada's 6th in the world for renewables. We are building out our liquefied natural gas industry that the world is asking for that Indigenous communities are proponents of and are developing.

We need all of the above.

We've seen that with the energy crisis and the affordability crises, and we need real concrete solutions, not pie in the sky wishful thinking that has no technical, concrete solution or alternative.

Mike: All right, it's our great LNG debate.

Andrew Dumbrill and Cody Battershill are my guests, both sides of it for you. Fit in one of your calls here. Brian in Coquitlam. Hey, Brian. Go ahead.

Brian: Hey, Mike. I just wanted to say that Andrew is right, but it doesn't matter because the rapid climate change is going to happen no matter what.

Whether we sell or don't sell the LNG, we should sell the LNG, take the money we make from that and then pay for the mitigation of the climate change.

It means shoring up our rivers and seawall and putting more trees up and stuff like that. We use that money to fix our issues with climate change because it's going to happen no matter what.

Mike: Okay, Andrew, what do you say? Thanks for the call. Andrew, what do you say to that?

Andrew: I think the solutions, especially around shipping, are there to reduce emissions dramatically over the next ten years. If you slow a ship down by 10%, you reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20%.

The sail technology is really increasing right now. There's huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and you can make ships more efficient. You can shave off 10, 15, even 20% by redesigning the hull.

So all these methods right now, switching away from bunker fuels to something called MGO, similar to marine diesel, you can reduce black carbon, which is a short-term climate forcer, which contributes to global climate change.

So there are things right now that in the shipping space we can do to actually make 20, 30, 40, 50% greenhouse gas reductions.

The important thing around those things is that it gives you time to invest in truly green fuels. And we're looking at hydrogen or methanol-based fuels.

And the last thing I'll say on this, the world's largest shipping company, everybody's heard of Mersk, right? The Danish shipping company, has said no to LNG. There is no future in it because we're quickly going to outpace its usefulness. Its best before date is quickly approaching.

We need to get to zero emission fuels. It's mainly methane. So to invest ships and facilities, these are goin to become stranded assets within five or ten years.

And that's really an important point, the stranded assets piece. You don't want to invest in something that's going to be out of date in five years when the shipping industry needs something that's good for 30 or 40 years.

Mike: Cody Battershill your response. Go ahead.

Cody: While Andrew's talking about small incremental efficiency gains 10, 20, 30%, there's many studies and many companies, many big shippers that would say LNG is a 10, 20 or 30% potential improvement in emissions.

So we do need to be balanced. We do need to treat everything the same.

I will just point to the fact that for the last decade we've heard oil is bad, natural gas is bad, emissions up. And what's happened in the world, demand has continued to increase, yes, along with renewables, but also with coal.

We need all of the above if we want to balance affordability for Canadians, if we want to balance energy security for our trading partners and allies, the developing world, and if we want to tackle sustainability, Canadian liquefied natural gas will have the lowest emissions on Earth.

That's a win for the climate. Reducing coal power, win for the climate and supporting Canadians is a win for Canadian families and affordability. It's pretty simple.

Mike: Okay, guys, sadly we just have just a little over a minute left here. Andrew, I'll give you each 30 seconds here to sum up, Andrew, what is the main message you want people to hear here from your campaign? Go ahead.

Andrew: If LNG is used in the shipping industry and you look at the global warming potential from a 20-year point of view and a full lifecycle accounting of LNG, the greenhouse gas emissions are 70% to 82% higher than conventional distillate or diesel fuel.

That is not a solution in the shipping industry. And it's almost entirely methane at extremely potent greenhouse gas, which is 80 times more potent than CO2.

So to invest in these large projects and to build ships, to use a fuel that is increasing our greenhouse gas emissions, it makes no sense given what we've seen this year with wildfires.

The climate emergency is literally on our doorstep…

Cody: I got to get the last word in.

Mike: Less than a minute left. Go ahead.

Cody: Yeah, Andrew's basically saying we should just keep using oil-based fuels because there is no alternative today. So we just need to be balanced.

BC LNG helps. It helps the climate, it helps affordability, it helps energy security. It is a win for indigenous communities that support it, are building it and trying to develop it and own it.

It is a win for all Canadians. And we just need to be pragmatic. This no-everything message with no technologically feasible or affordable alternative today is ridiculous.

It's just fear-mongering. And we can and must continue to advance all of the above.

Mike: Okay.

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