Pollution — it’s what pushing the climate crisis to a critical level — but B.C.’s carbon pollution is expected to rise significantly from liquefied natural gas development (LNG).

“Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas,” explains Jens Wieting of Sierra Club BC. “Many researchers are warning methane leakage makes LNG essentially as bad as coal from a climate perspective.”

Environmentalists and climate scientists are now urging the B.C. government to re-consider a historic, $40 billion LNG Canada facility in Kitimat.

They say it will be impossible for B.C. to meet its climate targets if the project goes ahead.

“There are not enough people in British Columbia to give up their cars and ride their bikes to reduce emissions as much as would be needed to offset the impact of LNG Canada alone,” Wieting says.

“I have said all along it’s very challenging to do this,” says B.C. Green Party leader and world-renowned climate scientist Andrew Weaver. “The B.C. NDP campaigned on 40 per cent emission reductions by 2030 and that is now legislation but I don’t know how they can do it with LNG.”

The climate goal is to go from 60 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, which was B.C. level in 2016, and reduce it 40 per cent to 36 metric tonnes by 2030.

By 2050, B.C.’s emissions would just be a fraction of what they are today at around 12 metric tonnes but this LNG project alone would take up more than 80 per cent of that.

When you factor in the impact burning the exported gas would have, critics say it sky-rockets to a staggering 68 metric tonnes.

“It means we will be on a path to three degrees of warming. and that is unmanageable,” Wieting says. “It would mean we’re faced with storms, with floods, with fires, with impacts on food production and sea level rise.”

Scientists and environmentalists say record-breaking wildfire seasons in B.C. the last two years are proof the planet’s already at a tipping point.

But to even attempt to try and meet the legislated climate targets, every other industry in B.C. would have to make significant reductions.

There’s also concern over increased tanker traffic in Douglas Channel and building a 670-kilometre pipeline from Dawson Creek through the Great Bear Rainforest.

“Northern B.C. has a very important eco system, which is very important for salmon and other species” says Jeffery Young of the David Suzuki Foundation. “There will be an impact for this pipeline and it’s something that needs to be considered and addressed significantly.”

Tess van Straaten