B.C. mov­ing in wrong di­rec­tion on emis­sions, prof says

Co-au­thor of UN global warm­ing re­port calls on B.C. to re­con­sider LNG project

Vancouver Sun - - FRONT PAGE - TIF­FANY CRAW­FORD ticraw­ford@post­media.com With files from The Cana­dian Press

B.C. is mov­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion if it wants to be a leader in curb­ing cli­mate change, says a Si­mon Fraser Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor who co-au­thored a dire United Na­tions re­port this week on the im­pacts of global warm­ing.

“We are at a crit­i­cal junc­ture. We need rapid and un­prece­dented changes across all as­pects of the econ­omy and so­ci­ety,” said Kirsten Zick­feld, a cli­mate science pro­fes­sor at SFU’s de­part­ment of ge­og­ra­phy. “Van­cou­ver has done a great job with its green ac­tion plan, but I just don’t see the same level of am­bi­tion at the pro­vin­cial or fed­eral lev­els.”

Zick­feld is a mem­ber of the United Na­tions In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change, and one of the au­thors of a spe­cial re­port this week on the ef­fects of global warm­ing 1.5 C over pre-in­dus­trial lev­els.

The re­port shows that if govern­ments don’t take im­me­di­ate and in­ten­sive ac­tion, the planet will warm up to 1.5 C warmer sooner than an­tic­i­pated, and pos­si­bly in just 12 years.

The goal now is to limit the in­crease to un­der 1.5 de­grees C, the re­port said, rather than 2 C as spec­i­fied in the 2015 Paris cli­mate change ac­cord. Over 1.5 C, there will be cat­a­strophic change, said Zick­feld, such as in­creased drought, wild­fires, famines and floods.

En­tire ecosys­tems will be wiped out.

Zick­feld said the large-scale fos­sil fuel projects Canada’s govern­ment is tak­ing on make the new cli­mate goals vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to achieve. She es­ti­mated the $40-bil­lion liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas ex­port ter­mi­nal on Bri­tish Columbia’s north coast, which re­cently got the green light from Royal Dutch Shell and its part­ners, will pump up to 10 mil­lion tonnes per year of green­house gas emis­sions in B.C., com­pa­ra­ble with all the cars and trucks in the prov­ince, which in 2015 (the lat­est year for data) was 8.6 mil­lion tonnes per year.

“To off­set the LNG project would re­quire tak­ing all the cars off the road or re­plac­ing them with elec­tric ve­hi­cles,” she said, adding that a more re­al­is­tic plan would be to tran­si­tion all gas-pow­ered ve­hi­cles to elec­tric within a decade.

Zick­feld added that B.C. needs to see a solid plan from the pro­vin­cial govern­ment about how they are go­ing to reach emis­sions tar­gets with the LNG Canada project, and if they can’t meet the tar­gets, she hopes “the govern­ment will re­con­sider this project.”

“As a coun­try we are ap­prov­ing pipe­lines to move fos­sil fu­els. This is to­tally mov­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion,” she said.

When the LNG Canada project was launched last week, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau ar­gued that pro­vid­ing Asia with nat­u­ral gas will help many coun­tries kick their coal habit, which will help com­bat cli­mate change by driv­ing down emis­sions world­wide.

Trudeau said the project will cre­ate 10,000 jobs, and pledged it will have the low­est car­bon in­ten­sity of any large-scale LNG fa­cil­ity in the world.

To meet the new tar­gets in the IPCC re­port, Canada would have to cut its emis­sions al­most in half over the next 12 years.

That means emis­sions would need to fall to a max­i­mum of 385 mil­lion tonnes a year. In 2016 they were al­most twice that, and the Cana­dian govern­ment’s cur­rent aim is to cut to only about 512 mil­lion tonnes a year.

Van­cou­ver has done a great job with its green ac­tion plan, but I just don’t see the same level of am­bi­tion at the pro­vin­cial or fed­eral lev­els.


Every­one needs to make sac­ri­fices, Zick­feld said, if we are go­ing to cut emis­sions. Some of the top changes in­clude eat­ing less meat and dairy, and buy­ing lo­cally sourced food.

Res­i­dents are also en­cour­aged to walk or cy­cle short dis­tances, and take tran­sit or, if pos­si­ble, drive elec­tric cars.

And, though she ad­mits this may be dif­fi­cult to achieve, peo­ple need to take fewer air­line trips.

Kirsten Zick­feld


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