The production of natural gas from shale could single-handedly derail the B.C. government’s plans to reduce the province’s greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a new report.
Shale Gas and Climate Targets: Can They Be Reconciled?—prepared by Simon Fraser University professor Mark Jaccard and researcher Brad Griffin for the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions—notes the provincial government has committed to cutting emissions by 33 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, relative to their level in 2007.
“While pursuing these GHG emission targets, the government continues to promote the exploitation of highly valuable provincial natural gas resources in spite of the challenges this strategy creates for its GHG objectives,” the report, which was released today (July 27), states.
According to the report, unconventional methods such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are required to extract gas from shale.
Although the development of shale gas in the northeast could become a “major economic driver” for B.C., the fossil fuel has the potential to be a “very large source” of emissions, the report says.
Still, it notes the prospects for carbon capture and storage are “quite favourable” in the shale-gas industry.
“In the case of B.C.’s current target for 2020, the potential development of shale gas makes it likely that this province will sustain the Canadian tradition of failing to meet GHG emissions reduction targets,” the report states. “If, however, the government is serious about achieving its target, then our analysis suggests that it needs to either ban shale gas development in B.C. or only allow such development if it includes CCS to prevent CO2 venting. Even in this latter case, it is likely to be difficult to achieve B.C.’s GHG emissions reduction targets.”
The report says shale-gas development could put the province 10 percent over its legislated emissions target for 2020.
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