Some of the world's leading experts on climate change are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government to reject the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project — a massive natural gas export facility planned for the B.C. coast near Prince Rupert.
Chief on their list of concerns expressed in a May 30 open letter to Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna are the dramatic increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions the project would create.
GHG emissions from the project would make it "virtually impossible" for B.C. to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and would undermine Canada's international climate change commitments, said the group, which includes ex-NASA scientist James Hansen and Tim Flannery, chief councilor of Australia's Climate Commission.
Signatories of the letter also state that there is a lack of evidence to support B.C. Premier Christy Clark's repeated claim that exporting natural gas to China would mean a reduction in the use of coal in that country.
Dr. Danny Harvey, a senior Canadian climate scientists said the environmental assessment that formed the basis for a decision concerning Pacific NorthWest LNG is "incomplete and superficial."
"For this reason, the proposal should be rejected outright," he wrote.
Harvey also says major uncertainties remain concerning the GHG emissions from the fracking operations in the North Montney region north of Fort St. John that would provide gas for the project.
"To proceed on a long-term project without knowing the consequences would be reckless," he said.
The letter comes shortly after federal Environment Minister McKenna asked the B.C. government for more details on its climate change plan and for more information on how the province's LNG plans would not interfere with national climate action targets.
The project is designed to receive fracked gas from the North Montney region in Northeast B.C. via TransCanada's Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline, and process it for export.
The federal government expects to make a decision on whether to approve the project this summer.
Earlier this month, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said Petronas is expected to file the latest set of information to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency soon.
In March, the federal government pushed the pause button on a final decision for the project, delaying it by three months, requesting more information on the project's impacts on the environment and Aboriginal Peoples living close by.
View the full letter here.
B.C., Japan renew MOU on energy cooperation
Also on Monday, the province announced Clark renewed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) during a recent trade mission to South Korea.
The MOU calls for "energy cooperation and development" between the province and JOGMEC, which, according to the province, has a stake in four LNG and natural gas projects in B.C., including Pacific NorthWest LNG. JOGMEC also has a stake in the Cordova Embayment, the Cutbank Ridge Partnership, and Aurora LNG.
"Strengthening our province's relationship with Japan, the world's largest importer of LNG, is key to the success of B.C.'s LNG sector," Clark said in a statement.
"Our province is committed to developing this industry and exploring other valued-added uses for natural gas. By working together, B.C. will be a strong ally for Japan as it continues to diversify its energy portfolio."