DEBATE: Should Canada Receive “Climate Credits” for LNG Exports?

should Canada get climate credits for LNG exports

With Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities projected to significantly reduce net global emissions, should provinces like British Columbia and Alberta receive “climate credits” under Article Six of the Paris Accord?

Mike Smyth, host of The Mike Smyth Show on 980 CKNW out of Vancouver, joins Cody Battershill, Founder and Chief Spokesperson of Canada Action, to discuss how our responsibly produced LNG exports will be a major boon to global climate action.


Or, keep reading for the full transcript of the debate below between Cody and Peter McCartney, climate change campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. Also see:


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Mike: All right, let's talk about the climate change targets that have been put in place by Canada. How are we going to meet these emission reduction targets?

Now, here is one idea that has been put on the table here in British Columbia and also next door in Alberta. When we export liquefied natural gas from BC and from Alberta to countries like China, should BC and Alberta receive a climate credit for that? Why should we receive a credit?

Well, here's how the argument goes. LNG burns cleaner than dirtier fuels, primarily coal. So if we sell them our natural gas, they burn less coal. Should we get credit for that? Should we get an emission credit for that?

Alberta premier Danielle Smith, this week, sitting down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, put that on the table. She said, Look, BC and Alberta, we should get credit for our natural gas that we're selling to China, and maybe we shouldn't have to, ...that should count toward our emission reductions.

I got Peter McCartney, Cody Battershill standing by to debate this. First, let's have a listen to the Alberta premier here.

So here's Danielle Smith making the case for these climate credits here for liquefied natural gas exports. Have a listen to this.

Danielle: We know that the government had negotiated Article Six into the Paris Climate Accord, which should allow for us to get a credit here for reducing emissions abroad.

And we would like to be able to work with our partner in British Columbia and the government in order to be able to reduce emissions and get credit here through LNG export.

Mike: Okay, so we should get credit here for emission reductions in other countries like China if we sell them our natural gas. What do we think about this?

What a great panel we've assembled for you on this one. Peter McCartney climate campaigner at the Wilderness Committee. I'm always pleased to welcome him. Peter, thank you for coming on.

Peter: Hey, thanks for having me. Appreciate it a lot.

Mike: Also on the line, Cody Battershill. Cody is founder of Canada Action, which is an advocacy group for oil and gas production in Canada. Cody, thank you for coming on.

Cody: Hey, thanks Mike. And thanks Peter for being here.

Mike: Okay, thank you guys, for both of you for being here. Cody, let me go to you first.

This idea of Alberta and BC receiving some sort of a credit for our natural gas that we sell to China, does that make sense to you?

Cody: It makes complete sense. We need to remember that greenhouse gas emissions don't honour national boundaries, and it's vital we address global emissions, even if it means our local emissions may rise slightly.

We should always follow the numbers.

We know that B.C. LNG will have the lowest emissions of any liquefied natural gas on Earth. We know that natural gas demand is growing. We know that we can replace coal in China and other countries. We can also replace other sources of gas production.

And Article Six is interesting. In my opinion, it's a very appropriate way for Canada to have a real measurable impact on climate mitigation, providing successful technologies, clean technology, low emission natural gas to other nations, assisting other nations with improving their own climate record.

Now of course, no surprise here, Peter's going to be opposed to all of this, but that's the reality of our current energy mix and Canada absolutely should be getting credit.

Mike: Okay, well, let's see how Peter feels about it. So Peter, I don't think is there any argument here that liquefied natural gas, it's a cleaner fuel than coal, right? So if we can displace coal combustion in other countries, why shouldn't we get a credit for that?

Peter: Yeah, so first of all, liquefied natural gas is not a cleaner fuel than coal when you look at the full lifecycle emissions impacts and the timeline of which methane impacts heating in the atmosphere.

So I want to dispel that first and foremost. But it is true that when you burn it, it creates less emissions at that power plant than a coal power plant would.

But this whole idea of using Article Six of the Paris agreement to get credit for those emissions reductions is completely bogus. And honestly, we've ignored it for four or five years ever since it was first raised because it's just so clearly a fantasy. It's a distraction from the incompatibility of us building this brand new fossil fuel industry and meeting our climate targets.

And the reason for that is they would have to prove that LNG, like, name the coal plant that is shutting down when we start exporting our LNG to one of these countries, which they can't do. Even if they could do that, they would have to convince this country to then sign over their emissions credits to us, which isn't going to happen for free.

So who's paying for that? Is it LNG producers cutting into their profits? Or is it the taxpayers paying to greenwash the liquefied natural gas industry?

Mike: Cody, what do you say to that?

Peter: It's just not going to happen.

Cody: Article Six allows countries to collaborate voluntarily on reducing emissions and receive credit for emissions reductions beyond their political boundaries.

Peter is a climate campaigner. Why is he opposed to reducing global emissions using Canadian natural gas? It doesn't make any sense to me.

I think when you look at the reality that renewable demand is at an all time high, let's invest in wind and solar. Coal demand is at an all time high. Let's make sure that coal is being produced to the highest environmental standards possible.

Natural gas demand all time high. Oil demand, all time high. That oil and that natural gas should also be coming from Canada. We're going to need all of the above.

It's wishful thinking that we're 100% renewable tomorrow. The world is not there. The science, the physics, the technologies are not there.

So getting Canadian natural gas, liquefying it with massive support from indigenous communities for the benefit of all Canadians in the world, is the pragmatic, common sense solution supported by the data that our natural gas will lower emissions and our natural gas will be some of the cleanest, liquefied natural gas in the world.

Mike: Let me play another clip here from the Alberta premier speaking this week on oil and gas production in Alberta. It was really interesting meeting she had with Trudeau and they talked about emission reduction targets in Canada and the path to net zero.

And Danielle Smith was asked about this again, once again this week. What about driving down emissions in Alberta, cutting back oil and gas production in Alberta?

And Peter, I'm really interested in your thoughts on this. Let's have a listen to Danielle Smith here. She's asked about phasing out oil and gas production in Alberta. Here's what she had to say.

Danielle: We're just not going to do anything that is going to damage our economy or give any indication that our oil and natural gas sector is going to be phased out. We're working on reducing emissions, not reducing jobs in the energy sector.

Mike: Okay, so Peter, she says they're working on reducing emissions in Alberta, but not reducing jobs. Is it possible to do both?

Peter: No. Ultimately, the world that we need to get to, that the world has agreed to get to, that net zero by 2050 that everyone has signed on to, means that we're not burning fossil fuels anymore.

And so focusing solely on the 20 or so percent of emissions that are created in Canada from extracting those fossil fuels and not on the vast majority of emissions that occurs when they are burnt, is only solving a tiny fraction of the problem.

And it does not prepare Alberta for the reality that the world is not going to need their fossil fuels for very much longer.

If the world and I want to be very clear about what Cody is saying when he says let's just keep meeting the gas demand and oil demand forever. He is saying we are going to exceed that 1.5 degree target that the whole world agrees upon is necessary to maintain a safe climate.

And so if we want to stick on track for that target, the International Energy Agency says we have to cut global gas demand by 20% by 2030. Even the Canadian energy regulator, hardly radical environmentalists here say, yeah, actually we really don't need to build any LNG.

And in fact, if the world goes to net zero by 2050, we're going to have to shut LNG Canada down decades ahead of schedule. That's not a good economic plan. That doesn't create jobs. All that does is set us up for failure.

Mike: Cody Battershill, your thoughts on that.

Cody: Well, liquefied natural gas is not a new industry and while Peter's been protesting, many other countries have eaten Canada's lunch.

We're going to need all energy sources. China, building coal power plants and wind and solar. Canada building wind and solar, some of the largest projects in Alberta right now under construction.

We're going to need all of the above because we're not going to accept blackouts. We're also not going to accept that we're going to shut in our oil and gas industry as Peter's proposing and have a massive economic and human cost while other countries take our market share.

And as we see oil and natural gas demand continue to grow.

Let's be clear, Peter's been saying for more than a decade that oil demand is going to peak or has peaked. Natural gas, we don't need it. We don't need it. We don't need it. What's happened? Record highs.

Peter's against hydro and transmission lines, Peter's against nuclear power, Peter's against oil, Peter's against natural gas, Peter's against coal. Peter's not actually for reducing emissions because many of those things like nuclear power, hydro power, Canadian liquefied natural gas will reduce emissions.

But Peter, it's not good enough for Peter.

Mike: Okay, well let me give...

Cody: ...not technologically feasible today.

Mike: Let me give him a chance to respond. We actually talked about nuclear power on the show yesterday and whether small modular nuclear reactors are the path forward. Peter, where do you stand on nuclear.

Peter: if you want to power like a remote mine that needs reliable power with a small modular nuclear reactor, I'm not going to fight you on that.

But the idea that we're just going to have banks of SMRs powering, whole cities, it's not going to happen.

The truth is wind and solar, backed up with renewable energy storage. We can do this. We've got the technology to do this.

And when Cody says all of the above, I want to be clear that he's talking about polluting the climate far past the agreed upon level of warming that humanity is able to survive.

And so we are already seeing fracking operations shut down in northeastern BC because the largest wildfire in the province is rampaging through fracking country right now. They were shut down again last fall because of a drought.

We cannot have an all of the above strategy because the climate impacts that we are seeing will prevent us from burning that energy, from having that economic prosperity to use that energy anyway.

And so we have to focus on renewable energy and that's very clearly what scientists have spelled out in order for us to limit warming to safe levels on this planet.

Mike: Okay, it's our climate change debate.

Peter McCartney, Cody Battershill and a full phone board here.

Hardy on the line in Langley. Hi, Hardy. Go ahead.

Hardy: Hi, thanks for taking my call.

I always get frustrated when this panel is on because it reminds me when I was a kid, like I'm in my mid fifties, and the science was clearly pointing towards where we were going to end up with climate change if we didn't do anything.

And the business lobby groups for oil and gas are just front and centre here.

The bottom line is the irony is on the Eastern Seaboard, we have that record flooding going on down in Arizona, 18 days plus 110 degrees Celsius.

We are wrecking our planet here.

I'm old enough where luckily I'm not going to see it. I have a grandson going to be born in August and I really fear for his world when he's my age because it's not one of those things where when it's too late, like in a time of war where we can mobilize and get everything together because the damage is ongoing.

Like your guest Peter McCartney talks about the methane in the atmosphere, it stays up longer than the carbon.

You know, having these in quotation "debates" is almost like adding to the disinformation. There is no debate going on here.

There's no choice between jobs and the climate. It's for climate. We need to have 100% focus on it and we need to move forward and stop all this BS.

Mike: Thank you, Hardy, for a good call. I let you go because go longer because I wanted you to have your say on it.

Cody, what do you say to him?

Cody: The climate is global and so we got to think about how we're going to feed and power the lives of 8 billion people.

Certainly we have to continue reducing emissions, but today modern society is dependent largely on fossil fuels, not just for power and heat, also for fertilizer and also for plastics and materials.

And so we're going to need to be honest and realistic about all of the above. Since the Paris Climate Accord, renewables investment is growing to record highs, but also so is gas demand, coal demand, oil demand, as I've said before.

And so we need Canada in the game. We need to continue to mitigate and reduce our environmental footprint. There's nowhere better than Canada to do that.

Mike: Peter. Peter.

Cody: ...I'm proud of this story about Canadian energy.

Mike: Peter, what do you say to that?

Peter: Yeah, I mean, I think the caller is exactly right.

We are experiencing one degree Celsius of global heating right now, and we are in a near constant state of emergency with wildfires, droughts, floods, heat waves.

I don't want to see what two degrees Celsius looks like. I don't want to see what three degrees Celsius looks like. But that's exactly what Cody is arguing for.

We just cannot, the physics of the planet will not let us continue using fossil fuels and burning fossil fuels for as far off into the future as Cody wants us to.

We need to act fast and we need to act now. And we've delayed this too long.

We can power the lives of those 8 billion people with wind and solar. In Germany right now and in a lot of Europe right now, solar prices are actually negative.

And so they're paying people to take the power because they're producing so much. What happens when you take that power, when it's actually being paid to take it? Use it to make green hydrogen. Use that green hydrogen as energy storage so you can burn it when you sell that back to the grid when there isn't enough solar, it's all doable we have the technology?

Mike: Cody, you got 30 seconds here. You're going to get the last word. Go ahead.

Cody: I just got to say that what Peter is actually advocating for is that energy and fossil fuel demand is met by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Mexico, all these other countries that have lower standards for protecting people and protecting the planet.

Climate mitigation through Canadian LNG, working with Indigenous communities and continuing to reduce our impact is the way forward if we want a balanced, honest conversation about the way we all live, Peter included, and how we can continue to move forward and balance meeting growing energy demand for the growing population with Canadian resources responsibly produced.

Mike: Guys, thank you for a good discussion once again and there is keen listener interest in this every time.

We got a ton of phone calls here we simply can't get to. We'll have to have you back. I appreciate both of you today.

Peter McCartney, the Wilderness Committee. Cody Battershill, Canada Action.

Thank you for your phone calls.

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