Michael Price

May 30, 2016 05:00 ET

Over 90 of the World's Leading Climate Experts Call on Canadian Federal Government to Reject Petronas' Pacific Northwest LNG Project

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - May 30, 2016) - Some of the world's leading experts on climate change - including former NASA scientist James Hansen, and Tim Flannery, chief councilor of Australia's Climate Commission and a world expert on climate change - have called on the Trudeau government to reject a massive liquefied natural gas project proposed for the Skeena region of Northern British Columbia.

Flannery and Hansen are among more than 90 of the world's leading climate change experts who have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, signaling their alarm at the significant adverse effects that will be caused by a dramatic spike in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if the Pacific Northwest LNG project gets a green light from the federal government.

"As an Australian living with the consequences of gas exploitation, I know that LNG is the wrong pathway to take - from both an environmental and financial perspective," said Tim Flannery.

Petronas' LNG project would be one of the largest point source emitters of greenhouse gases in Canada. With the recent signing of the Paris agreement, Prime Minister Trudeau is facing his first big test on climate action. If he approves the project, it would make it virtually impossible for BC to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and it would undermine Canada's international climate change commitments.

Dr. Danny Harvey, a senior Canadian climate scientist, said: "The environmental assessment that would form the basis for a decision concerning this LNG project is incomplete and superficial. For this reason alone the proposal should be rejected outright." Harvey is a lead author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "Major uncertainties remain concerning greenhouse gas emissions from the fracking that would supply the natural gas, and concerning its full impact on emissions in the countries that would receive the natural gas. To proceed with a long term project without knowing the consequences would be reckless."

The letter outlined additional reasons for rejecting the project, including that the GHG emissions from the project are likely underestimated; a lack of adequate climate policy to reduce impacts for the project; and a lack of evidence to support that a claim by project supporters that LNG will replace coal in Asia. The list of signatories of the letter includes climate experts from Canada, USA, the United Kingdom and Australia, as well as multiple IPCC authors.

"When you take into account the emissions from the full lifecycle of LNG from fracking to transport and regasification, it significantly reduces LNG's benefits over coal," said Dr. Steven Running, a climate expert at the University of Montana, and IPCC author. "The stakes are high and the world is watching. Countries must take serious action to avoid the worst-case scenario with climate change, and Canada made an international commitment to reduce its emissions by 30% by 2030. That is simply not feasible with the approval of Petronas' LNG project."

Dr. Alejandro Frid, Science Coordinator for the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance added: "BC government propaganda has focused on the fact that CO2 emissions from natural gas are lower than for other fossil fuels, and that methane emissions last relatively short periods of time in the atmosphere. Their argument for LNG as a 'climate solution', however, is flawed because it fails to account for the tremendous warming potential of methane over 20-year periods, and how such warming might contribute to runaway climate change."

The letter comes on the heels of the BC's Climate Leadership Team critique of the provincial government's lack of climate action, while the federal Environment Minister recently asked the BC government for details on their climate change plan and for more information on how the province's LNG plans would not interfere with national climate action targets.

The Federal government is set to make the final decision on the controversial proposal within the next 90 days. Minister McKenna indicated a possible federal cabinet decision by the end of June.

Link to climate letter with list of signatories: http://bit.ly/1XCVLst

Contact Information

  • Dr. Danny Harvey
    Professor of Geography
    University of Toronto
    416-778-0670 or 416-978-1588
    harvey@geog.utoronto.ca
    (available for french interviews)

    Dr. Mark Jaccard
    Professor of Sustainable Energy
    Simon Fraser University
    (independent expert, non signatory to letter)
    778-789-0852
    jaccard@sfu.ca

    Dr. Alejandro Frid
    Science Coordinator
    Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance
    250-902-0722 or 604-363.4027

    Dr. Steven Running
    Professor, University of Montana
    406-243-6311
    swr@ntsg.umt.edu

    Dr. Arne Mooers
    Professor of Biodiversity
    Simon Fraser University
    604-254-4939 or 604-358-2313
    (available for french interviews)

    Dr. William Rees
    Professor Emeritus
    University of British Columbia
    604-266-5200 or 778-386-3893