Economist Marc Lee dispenses with "big lie" that LNG will help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions
Late last week, Green MP Paul Manly drew attention to the Liberal government's wish to obtain carbon credits for shipping liquefied natural gas out of the country.
It came during Question Period on June 14, when Manly asked if the government was aware that "fracked gas has the same carbon footprint as coal".
Today, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Marc Lee, has reinforced Manly's point in a policy note on his organization's website.
"Instead of indulging in dangerous wishful thinking that LNG is a solution to climate change, the federal government should instead start living up to its own Paris Agreement commitments," Lee writes.
Near the start of his policy note, he disparages the claim that LNG can be substituted for dirtier fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, he calls this a "big lie".
"The grain of truth upon which this claim is made is simple: at the point of combustion, gas is about half as emissions-intensive as coal to deliver the same amount of energy," Lee writes. "However, getting gas to the point of combustion is an incredibly energy-intensive endeavour.
"Extracting unconventional gas supplies, which constitute the majority of Canadian gas production, requires drilling down a couple kilometers below the earth, and then horizontal drilling to frack gas trapped in rock using a mix of water and chemicals," he continues. "Once surfaced that gas must be piped to processing plants, requiring more energy, where impurities are stripped out. Gas must then be pipelined to the coast to be liquefied before it can be put on a tanker for export to Asia."
That's to say nothing of the energy-intensive liquefaction process. According to Lee, this along with transport and regasification processes consume about a fifth of the gas.
"These processes all lead to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and thus substantially reduce the emissions advantage relative to coal," he concludes.
If that's not enough to drive home his point, Lee also notes that even small methane leaks in the supply chain "can wipe out any remaining advantage for gas relative to coal".