To the Editor:
Markham Hislop’s article “Liberals open door for ridiculous Alberta ‘clean LNG for carbon credits’ scheme” is an excellent account of how the federal Liberals are pandering to Alberta’s carbon daydreams. As someone involved in this area of work, I’d like to make a few additional points, expanding on Markham’s text.
Using the concept of “avoided emissions” to justify generating carbon credits from the switch to LNG is a slippery slope and is unlikely to be accepted by those key UN bodies developing the ground rules for Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (which permits trade of credits between countries). That’s because it assumes that project developers can accurately quantify baseline emissions over time, and recent criticisms of forestry projects using this concept have shown just how slippery that slope is.
More importantly, to generate credits from fuel switches you need a methodology which explains how to do it. That’s a big problem, as the methodologies supporting this kind of action are part of the now-defunct Clean Development Mechanism and have yet to be approved for use in Article 6. Even if that does happen, it will take several years for approval to be granted and details of the “new” methodologies worked out.
But technical issues aside, it’s the ethics of the potential Alberta deal that I find most problematic. To support this project Canada would have to revise its Nationally Determined Contribution, making it clear that they intend to meet their own Paris emissions reduction targets in part by allowing the export—and therefore the continued production–of LNG, a carbon-intensive fuel. If they did that, it would be a huge blow to Canada’s international credibility. It doesn’t really matter if it’s technically feasible, or not. The idea has zero merit and is obviously intended only to please Alberta’s cosy fossil fuel producers’ club.
Of course, Alberta isn’t just using the fuel-switch argument; it’s also promoting the idea that Canada’s LNG is a “green” or “low-carbon” version of ordinary natural gas. This is pure chicanery. Switching to green electricity in the production of LNG does not eliminate the substantial carbon burden created by the pipelines that transport it to the coast and the massive ships that take it to market. Is it “greener” than the equivalent LNG produced elsewhere? Maybe, but it’s certainly not a serious option for countries wanting to meet their 2030 and 2050 Paris targets. Why not just convert electricity production to renewable sources in the first place? It’s now cheaper and a lot simpler to do than it was even 10 years ago, and way cheaper than generating electricity from any fossil fuel.
I’m surprised most of all that this obviously silly idea has drawn the support of Minister Guilbeault, a venerable carbon warrior, who should understand that it’s both impractical and ethically dubious. Pull up your socks, Minister, and tell Alberta that they need to begin curtailing gas and oil production, not expand it based on an obscure concept of how fossil fuels can be turned into carbon “benefits.”
Carbon Impact Consultants
14 July 2023