Supporting Canadian Natural Gas Exports Will Make the World a Better Place

Supporting Canadian natural gas exports will make the world a better place cover-01

“British Columbian liquefied natural gas (LNG) will reduce emissions.” If you live in Vancouver or Victoria, chances are you’ve seen these bus or billboard ads at some point (see above). The message refers to Canada’s opportunity to lower net global emissions by displacing more greenhouse gas (GHG) intensive forms of power and heat generation elsewhere, particularly in Asia.

Apart from the independent studies finding substantial emissions reductions can be accomplished by substituting Canadian LNG for coal, numerous real-world examples exist of how positive coal-to-gas switching is for the climate.

Realistically, at this moment in time, exporting our responsibly produced LNG to Asia is the most significant climate action Canada can take on the global stage.

“Converting coal-fired plants in China to LNG produced in Canada would make a bigger impact on greenhouse gas emissions than anything we do in Canada,” says Karen Ogen, Chief Executive Officer of the First Nations LNG Alliance.

“Canada needs to think globally when it comes to climate change.”

As Ogen suggests, it is imperative we remember GHGs are global; they do not respect international boundaries, so if Canada can help reduce emissions elsewhere by exporting our low-emission LNG, it’s a massive win for the climate.

global natural gas demand to grow 20 percent by 2050

But as usual, anti-development activists want to thwart our world-class LNG projects with unbalanced messaging that isn’t honest about the facts.

If Canada sits on the sidelines while the rest of the world continues to rapidly develop its LNG capabilities, will a single molecule of natural gas be kept in the ground? Perhaps our country’s self-inflicted economic loss will revolutionize global energy systems away from fossil fuels and encourage other producer nations to stop exporting natural gas altogether?

Yes, these are ridiculous questions. But one must wonder if opponents see the bigger picture, which includes the significance of sustainable and reliable supply chains post-2022 Ukraine, and how natural gas currently underpins food and energy security for much of the world.

To go without this energy source would be total economic and societal collapse on a global scale.

Natural gas is used widely for heating, cooking and electricity generation, and is a critical chemical feedstock to manufacture plastics and other commercially important products such as fertilizers. In Canada, it accounts for more than one-third of end-use fuel consumption [1], making it an irreplaceable energy source that, by and large, underpins our modern society --- a fact that extends to the entirety of the developed world.

We mentioned fertilizer. It is estimated that approximately half of the world’s population – or four billion people – is supported by food grown using nitrogen fertilizers [2]. Natural gas is a critical raw material and fuel used to produce this plant food in commercially viable quantities.

In other words, half the current world wouldn’t be around if it weren’t for natural gas. How many of us, our family members and friends, would cease to exist without this incredibly important, life-sustaining fossil fuel?

Canadian LNG exports will reduce global emissions

We also mentioned plastics. Natural gas is an essential ingredient in making plastics, where it is refined into ethane and propane, which in turn is then heated in a process called “cracking” to produce ethylene and propylene. These materials are then combined together to create different polymers, which are used in a wide variety of applications such as in the manufacturing of critical hospital equipment that helps sustain and save lives [3]. The life-supporting properties of plastic extend much further than just healthcare; think food packing and preservation, or safety equipment, to name a few examples.

Let’s not forget about the role of natural gas in energy systems worldwide, including significant amounts of renewables, by providing reliable baseload power in case the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

The positives of natural gas go on.

We cannot have an honest discussion about this fossil fuel without recognizing its immense benefits. And while much of the developed world enjoys these benefits, billions of people still live in extreme energy poverty and must face the incredible hardships that come with. Don't they deserve the same opportunities provided by having access to affordable and abundant energy sources like natural gas, as we do?

Natural gas is a force for good in the world. Whether it be heating the homes of the elderly and vulnerable, supporting food and energy security for billions of people, or manufacturing critical life-saving plastic healthcare products, it is abundantly clear that Canada should do more in global gas markets as one of the most sustainable and reliable producers on the planet.

Making Canadian LNG more accessible to energy-hungry buyers across the globe will make the world a better place.

SOURCES:

1 - https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/en/data-analysis/energy-markets/provincial-territorial-energy-profiles/provincial-territorial-energy-profiles-canada.html

2 - https://ourworldindata.org/how-many-people-does-synthetic-fertilizer-feed

3 - https://www.acplasticsinc.com/informationcenter/r/medical-uses-for-plastic-materials

 

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