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"Carbon tsunami" lead by Enbridge Northern Gateway takes aim at BC


The fossil fuel industry is aggressively pushing for a 700% increase in the amount of climate pollution flowing through BC's economy. Seven times more fossil carbon in just a single decade.

As my chart below shows, eighteen fossil fuel mega-projects are currently proposed for BC. Twice as much coal. Ten times more fracked natural gas. Five times more tarsands. The resulting climate impact of this carbon tsunami could exceed 1,200 million tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2) per year. That's more than the climate pollution from all the coal, oil and natural gas burned by over two billion people living in 160 nations today.

It is absolutely, jaw-droppingly, immorally, out of control.

Chart by Barry Saxifrage. Click chart to view full size.

All efforts by British Columbians to create a sustainable, climate-safe economy would be obliterated by even a small fraction of this proposed carbon flood.

Currently the provincial economy has 40 tCO2 per British Columbian flowing through it -- in either burned or exported fossil fuels. The carbon tsunami aimed at BC would add up to 270 tCO2 more per person. It would make BC one of the world's climate-dirtiest economies per person. It would dwarf what Albertans are doing next door.

Despite the massive scale and frenzied pace, neither the federal Harper government nor the provincial Clark government has rejected any of these mega-carbon proposals. Every final decision on expanded coal ports has been an approval. Every final decision on liquid natural gas (LNG) projects has been an approval. Every final decision on giant new tarsands pipelines-to-super-tankers projects has been an approval. It's a perfect 100% approval so far for a seven-fold increase in climate pollution in BC's economy in a single decade.

For those of us in BC that care about stopping the rapidly unfolding climate crisis it is a shocking and unprecidented assault on our future by the fossil fuel industry and our political leadership.

Here is a quick tour of this on-rushing carbon tsunami…

TAR SANDS: 5x more in BC

The two biggest fossil carbon projects at the crest of the tsunami are both tarsands pipelines-to-super-tankers projects:

  1. Enbridge Northern Gateway at 196 MtCO2/yr
    The full climate impact of the 850,000 barrels of bitumen that Enbridge wants to pump through this pipeline and onto super-tankers exceeds all the climate pollution from all fossil fuels burned -- or exported -- in BC today. It is a bitterly opposed project that single-handedly would double the carbon flowing through the BC economy.
  2. Kinder Morgan Transmountain at 136 MtCO2/yr
    Kinder Morgan wants to pump an extra 590,000 barrels of bitumen everyday to the ocean near Vancouver and load it onto more than 250 super-tankers per year. Dozens of First Nations as well as the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver are adamantly opposed. It would increase oil exports from BC by 1,000%.

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LNG: 10x more frack gas in BC

The BC government says it is "taking an aggressive approach" to jump start a gigantic new fossil fuel industry in the province -- Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). Thirteen major projects have been proposed so far. The yearly climate pollution resulting from these 13 LNG projects would be over 800 MtCO2 per year. So far, the National Energy Board (NEB) has approved 11 of the 13 proposals for export and rejected none. Here's a list:

  1. WCC LNG at 118 MtCO2/yr
    This partnership between ExxonMobil and Imperial Oil would create more global warming pollution than 45 Vancouvers. That's twice as much climate pollution as from all the coal mined in BC.
  2. Canada Stewart Energy at 111 MtCO2/yr
  3. LNG Canada Dev at 100 MtCO2/yr
  4. Aurora LNG at 91 MtCO2/yr
  5. Prince Rupert LNG at 88 MtCO2/yr
  6. Kitsault LNG at 86 MtCO2/yr
  7. Pacific NorthWest LNG at 85 MtCO2/yr
  8. Jordan Cove LNG at 47 MtCO2/yr
  9. Oregon LNG at 40 MtCO2/yr
  10. KM LNG at 35 MtCO2/yr
  11. Triton LNG at 10 MtCO2/yr
  12. Woodfibre LNG Export at 9 MtCO2/yr
  13. BC LNG Export Co-op at 6 MtCO2/yr

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COAL: 2x more in BC

The coal already exported from BC creates as much climate pollution as all the fossil fuels burned in the province. Despite this huge climate impact, the coal industry is pushing to double BC coal exports in the next few years. Almost all the expansion is for the most climate-damaging of fossil fuels, thermal coal. So far neither the Harper government, nor the Clark government has opposed any coal expansion proposal. Here is the current list:

  1. PMV coal expansion at 42 MtCO2/yr
    The federally controlled Port of Metro Vancouver (PMV) has already granted approval for an additional 20 million tonnes of coal to be exported each year. So far the Port flatly refuses to consider the climate impact of the megatonnes of coal they are green-lighting.
  2. Fraser-Surrey coal terminal at 17 MtCO2/yr
    PMV is currently considering a proposal to build yet another coal export dock. This one would be the first on the Fraser River and it would handle US thermal coal. It would start with an export capacity of 8 million tonnes of coal per year. The Clark government secretly approved a critical component of this project without telling locals or the public.  
  3. Ridley coal expansion at 25 MtCO2/yr
    This recently sold Crown Corporation near Prince Rupert has been given approval to double the amount of coal it exports. The climate impact will exceed that from all the cars and buildings in British Columbia.

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Carbon tsunami or climate hope?

British Columbians face a dramatically stark choice right now.

Will they allow the fossil fuel industry to radically transform BC into one of the most carbon-dirty economies on the planet? Or will they follow up on their promise to reduce climate pollution and insist that BC be a part of the solution to the rapidly emerging climate crisis?

The critical decisions are being made now.

More in Climate Snapshot

Car Carbon series: cool new animation, plus the jaw-dropping impact it left out

What weighs sixteen billion pounds yet hides in plain sight?

Climate change fuels both California's record drought and "polar vortex" storms

How bad is it? Take a look at the satellite images that rattled even the White House…
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Athabasca tar sands, photographed by Andrew S. Wright

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