Editorial: LNG expansion opposition is ill-advised

It would be fitting for Metro Vancouver’s Climate Action Committee to be rechristened a climate inaction committee to reflect its recommendation to the region’s board of directors to oppose FortisBC’s local liquefied natural gas (LNG) expansion projects.

The recommendation is rooted in the committee’s concerns about overall greenhouse gas emissions from the proposed Tilbury Marine Jetty and Tilbury Phase 2 projects.

Those emissions, it concludes, would be inconsistent with Metro Vancouver’s climate targets.

Leaving aside the practicality of achieving those targets, the opposition to the expansion of LNG availability for marine traffic in and around the Port of Vancouver is shortsighted.

In the wider world of maritime shipping, which moves approximately 90 per cent of global goods, charting a viable course to lower greenhouse gas emissions will require greater use of LNG as a bridge fuel to greener options, whose availability, technology and infrastructure are not yet ready for prime time.

Blocking the steps required to reach a reduced emissions future for ports, cargo terminals and ships will delay initiatives needed to wean ocean carriers from heavy marine oil and diesel. And that surely is also inconsistent with the climate targets of Metro Vancouver and any other region concerned about air and water pollution.

Governments and civil servants need to play a consistent role in establishing the regulatory frameworks to provide directions and incentives that will allow the private sector to invest in what is a staggeringly expensive overhaul of how their businesses operate.

That transition is not going to happen overnight, and it is not going to happen with any one initiative.

It will require a multitude of steps, big and small.

Aside from dollars and cents, the process will not succeed without co-operation and co-ordination on all sides of the energy transition equation. If decisions from policymakers are not grounded in accurate technical, economic and social data, both the economy and the environment will suffer.