Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on December 10, 2019 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on December 10, 2019 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Cleaner LNG one answer to climate change crisis, O’Regan tells investors

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan says Canadian LNG is the best choice for global energy investors

Canadian LNG is the best choice for global energy investors looking for sustainable and competitive natural gas production, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said Monday.

His speech on the opening day of the virtual Gastech 2020 conference comes just two weeks before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to unveil his promised “ambitious green agenda” in a throne speech laying out his government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

O’Regan hinted at some of what may come in that plan, including promises of investments in the electrical grid and energy efficiency programs, a focus on workers and investing in technology to make fossil fuels cleaner.

“We’ll get to where we need to be tomorrow by using what we have at our fingertips today,” O’Regan said.

He said the best path to a healthy, low-emission economy includes Canada making natural gas a greener product that can be sold overseas — mainly to Asian nations — to replace coal as a source of electricity. That includes developing better carbon-capture and storage technology, as well as investing in research and commercialization to come up new ways to get gas to be more sustainable.

Politically, support for LNG crosses party lines in Ottawa. A plan to sell Canadian LNG to overseas market was one of the chief climate change policies in the Conservative campaign in 2019 and was also part of new Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s leadership campaign platform.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has also been supportive of LNG projects, particularly the LNG Canada project in northern British Columbia that is also fully backed by the provincial NDP government in B.C.

O’Regan said the International Energy Agency forecasts growth in demand for gas for decades and that “bodes well for Canada.”

The IEA’s own forecasts are a bit more complex than that. Looking at existing policies around the world, it predicted in 2019 that LNG will grow 36 per cent over the next 20 years. However under a “sustainable development scenario” that transforms the world’s energy use in line with the Paris climate change agreement goals on global warming, it expects natural gas use to peak by the end of this decade.

The IEA also warned that shipping LNG to Asia may not be as attractive as some think given dropping prices for renewables and rising prices for natural gas. Those warnings however came before the COVID-19 lockdowns curbed demand and saw gas prices plummet, a scenario the agency says will not reverse itself very quickly.

Keith Stewart, a senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, said the 11 LNG project proposals in Canada which O’Regan referenced in his speech are likely to become “white elephants” that are abandoned in favour of everything from wind and solar to hydrogen. He said many major investors have already shown reluctance if not outright refusals, to back fossil fuels any longer.

“Politicians want to tell us ‘okay we don’t have to change very much’ but we do and we have to start planning for those big changes rather than imagining we can kind of tweak our way out of this,” he said.

The IEA does say that switching from coal to gas reduced global emissions more than 500 million tonnes between 2010 and 2019, an amount equal to two-thirds of Canada’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions. It estimated that replacing coal with gas in existing power plants could save 1.2 billion tonnes of emissions, noting that may be the best case for scenario for gas.

Catherine Abreu, executive director of the Climate Action Network Canada, said initially O’Regan’s Monday speech sounded good to her, talking about investing in a transition for workers, electricity grids and energy efficiency programs.

“Then I realized it was actually a speech about LNG disguised as a speech about renewable energy and I felt really duped,” she said.

She said she is trying to remain hopeful about the throne speech but is worried it will provide “token” acknowledgments or investments for clean energy “but then continues this trend that we’ve seen of the real priority and the real investment going toward the fossil fuel sector.”

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of North Island conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
QUINN’S QUIPS: Art is more than simple expression in First Nations culture

Indigenous artwork has a connection to its people, and vice versa

The Rogers Creek Trail main trailhead is located on the Redford Extension in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Hiker rescued after cold few hours in the bush outside Port Alberni

Alberni Valley Rescue Squad said they receive frequent calls for people lost on this trail

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Most Read