Susannah Pierce: LNG Canada has designed lowest carbon-emitting plant of its kind in the world

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      By Susannah Pierce

      For the past seven years, LNG Canada has been working closely with the Kitimat region and northern First Nations to realize an LNG export facility located in the traditional territory of the Haisla Nation, near the town of Kitimat.

      Our project now has support from northern communities, First Nations, local and provincial governments. But make no mistake: we earned that support by designing a project that went well beyond requirements in every aspect of project design and execution.

      Contrary to a belief expressed by Peter McCartney from the Wilderness Committee that our project wouldn’t be moving ahead without government propping it up, our project will contribute $22 billion to the B.C. economy—far from the definition of “propped up”. What government has provided is a level playing field on which projects like ours can compete with other geographies further along in the development of exporting their surplus natural gas to countries that need natural gas to transition off higher carbon emitting fuels such as coal, as well as clean their air.

      The cost of electricity we now have with B.C. Hydro is the same as for other industrial users, rather than the premium we were going to be charged when the B.C. government at the time viewed LNG development differently and imposed electricity rates never seen before in the province, as well as an LNG tax created specific to the LNG industry, over and above all other taxes a company in this province has to pay.

      We are more than willing to pay our fair share of taxes to drive the B.C. economy and help pay for hospitals and schools. What we are less willing to do is have extra taxes foisted on our project and the industry that makes it impossible to compete globally, and fails Canada in its ability to deliver benefits to our nation.

      When Premier John Horgan made his announcement regarding fiscal measures to assist the emerging LNG industry be competitive, he did indeed announce postponement of the PST payment, but did nothing to reduce or eliminate it. All of the PST that would be due still is, just not until the project is generating revenue to pay it. This needs to be seen for what it is—a deferral and not a subsidy.

      The world needs energy—at least 40 percent more over the next 20 years than is being produced today. There is room for all kinds of energy development, from nuclear to solar to LNG, because the world will need it all.  Natural gas has an important role to play in the transition to a lower carbon future, including backing out the most emissions intensive forms of energy that contribute to climate change—which is a global issue.

      Should LNG Canada receive a positive final investment decision, which we hope may happen later in 2018, we will initially build two LNG processing units, referred to as trains. We have designed the facility to have the lowest carbon intensity in the world. Why does this matter? Because LNG produced at LNG Canada will have fewer carbon emissions per tonne than all other large LNG facilities. Climate change is a global issue and the social costs, whether in B.C. or China, are a result of how the world responds to the global challenge. 

      This is where British Columbia comes in. We already have among the most progressive greenhouse gas policies in the world, and are the first to design a carbon-intensity benchmark into LNG facility regulations.

      For LNG Canada, our two trains will emit two megatonnes (MT) of CO2. At full build out, we will have four trains and produce four MT. While we will be adding to B.C.’s CO2 emissions, the net gain in reducing global CO2 emissions will be significantly more based on life cycle analyses conducted on B.C. LNG.

      We will also be paying a carbon tax on the emissions we produce, and should government choose, it could use these revenues to help projects like ours and other sectors further reduce emissions through made-in-B.C. technology development and the purchase of carbon offsets from British Columbia. 

      When B.C. and Canada introduced climate policies, it’s difficult to imagine they contemplated that no further economic development would take place anywhere in the country. We have paid attention to the tension between climate and economic development, and designed the lowest carbon-emitting LNG project in the world—about half as much carbon as the average facility and 30 percent lower than the best performing facility in the world today.

      We have also worked closely with First Nations in B.C. at the plant, and with TransCanada, our pipeline partner, along the pipeline right-of-way, to share value from our project that will help many First Nations communities rise out of poverty and take control of their economic futures. We are making real the offer of reconciliation that has been promised to First Nations communities.

      As a society, we are well past “no” being the knee-jerk response to energy development. Northern and First Nations communities understand this only too well, and have helped shape our project so it benefits their communities for decades to come. They have shared their traditional knowledge so our project’s environmental performance sets the bar high for mega project development. Our project will represent the largest energy investment in the history of Canada, with a very real opportunity to benefit all Canadians.

      Susannah Pierce is director external relations with LNG Canada.

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