Canada’s gas industry is exploiting the war in Ukraine to try to expand production and fast track liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects. The gas industry is dressing up plans for expansion on Canada's East Coast in the guise of 'helping' Europe wean itself off Russian gas.
Don’t be fooled. LNG export facilities on Canada's East Coast won’t help Europe's short-term energy needs. Even if — and that’s a big if — projects are ever completed and the billions needed for these found, by the time an East Coast LNG project is operating, demand in Europe will largely have shifted to more affordable, cleaner sources.
Instead of fast-tracking climate-damaging LNG, Canada should ramp up investments in renewable energy. Clean, safe wind and solar power can be scaled up faster, and is better for consumers’ wallets. Plus, clean energy doesn’t fund despotic regimes.
Gas exported from Eastern Canada would not be clean, ethical, or
Don’t believe the gas industry's slick spin — gas is not clean burning or climate-safe. What's more, the expansion of gas infrastructure poses risks to the safety of Indigenous women.
Methane leaks from gas pipelines are well-documented and awful for the climate, with more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide.
The two East Coast export proposals in the news lately — Repsol SA’s Saint John LNG project in New Brunswick and Pieridae Energy's Goldboro LNG project in Nova Scotia — would both require gas to be carried in pipelines across Canada, from Alberta to the East Coast.
The International Energy Agency's Net Zero by 2050 report said that no new gas projects can be started if the world is to have a shot of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. Gas is a fossil fuel that damages our shared climate. A previous version of Pieridae Energy’s Goldboro project would have added 3.7 megatonnes of carbon pollution a year, equivalent to burning over 4 billion pounds of coal a year - and causing Nova Scotia to go over its carbon limit by one third. It's estimated that Repsol's project could generate 1.2 megatonnes of carbon pollution a year - equivalent to driving 258,563 gasoline cars for one year. That would make it impossible for New Brunswick to meet its climate target. And that does not include emissions generated when the gas is burned — where the majority of gas-related emissions come from.
There is also strong opposition to proposed East Coast LNG projects because of the correlation between fossil fuel work camps and increased violence on Indigenous women. The proposed Goldboro LNG project will likely create a work camp of 5000 workers while the plant is being built. Worker camps have been extensively studied and revealed to be associated with violence, human trafficking and the disappearance of Indigenous women and girls.
Read more on the environmental & social risks of East Coast LNG export projects.
Gas is not a bridge to hydrogen.
Be skeptical of any claims that a new LNG export facility will be converted to hydrogen.
As the chair of Hydrogen Europe told a German newspaper earlier this summer, an LNG terminal can only be retrofitted at extremely high costs due to the different cooling temperatures. The temperature for hydrogen is minus 252 degrees — far colder than the temperature requirement for LNG, minus 168 degrees. The insulation requirements are completely different. If Canada wants to export hydrogen, it should build a green hydrogen terminal from the start. Otherwise, this is either greenwashing or a very expensive bill coming to Canadians down the line.
Robert Rozansky, research analyst, Global Energy Monitor:
"Growing calls to build LNG terminals on Canada's East Coast overlook a key point: these facilities simply cannot be built in time to address Europe's energy crisis. The EU's plan to rapidly decarbonize sets the stage for new Canadian export projects to become stranded assets."
Brian O'Callaghan, Lead Researcher and Project Manager, Oxford Economic Recovery Project, Oxford University:
"Opening a new LNG export facility in five years would be irrelevant to the current energy crisis in Europe. Building a new LNG export facility in Canada sounds like an enormous stranded asset in the making."
CCS will not make gas
The gas industry likes to talk a lot about CCS (carbon capture and storage.) But no amount of CCS will prevent emissions when the gas is burned -and that is where the majority of gas emissions are generated.
CCS is wildly expensive and unproven. Shell's Quest Plant - which got subsidies of $745 million from the Alberta government and $150 million from the federal government - emits more carbon than it captures.