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  • A critical look at BC’s new tax breaks and subsidies for LNG May 7, 2019
    The BC government has offered much more to the LNG industry than the previous government. Read the report by senior economist Marc Lee.  
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • The 2019 living wage for Metro Vancouver April 30, 2019
    The 2019 living wage for Metro Vancouver is $19.50/hour. This is the amount needed for a family of four with each of two parents working full-time at this hourly rate to pay for necessities, support the healthy development of their children, escape severe financial stress and participate in the social, civic and cultural lives of […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Time to regulate gas prices in BC and stop industry gouging April 29, 2019
    Drivers in Metro Vancouver are reeling from record high gas prices, and many commentators are blaming taxes. But it’s not taxes causing pain at the pump — it’s industry gouging. Our latest research shows that gas prices have gone up by 55 cents per litre since 2016 — and the vast majority of that increase […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • CCPA welcomes Randy Robinson as new Ontario Director March 27, 2019
    The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is pleased to announce the appointment of Randy Robinson as the new Director of our Ontario Office.  Randy’s areas of expertise include public sector finance, the gendered rise of precarious work, neoliberalism, and labour rights. He has extensive experience in communications and research, and has been engaged in Ontario’s […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • 2019 Federal Budget Analysis February 27, 2019
    Watch this space for response and analysis of the federal budget from CCPA staff and our Alternative Federal Budget partners. More information will be added as it is available. Commentary and Analysis  Aim high, spend low: Federal budget 2019 by David MacDonald (CCPA) Budget 2019 fiddles while climate crisis looms by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood (CCPA) Budget hints at priorities for upcoming […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

BC’s GHG emissions shell game

The BC government recently announced a new climate action of some consequence: the phasing out of the Burrard Thermal plant in Metro Vancouver. The unit was used largely for back-up purposes, producing electricity for BC Hydro to supplement hydropower during times of high demand. But at a large GHG cost per unit of energy — about 351 kilotonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) were emitted from Burrard Thermal in 2006, making it the 13th largest emitter in BC.

To put that in perspective, the top emitter in BC as of 2006 was the Fort Nelson gas plant, with 1.25 megatonnes of CO2e, about four times the size of Burrard Thermal. Spectra Energy, who own the Fort Nelson plant is, however, planning a carbon capture and storage operation that will nab, if all goes according to plan, 2 Mt per year when implemented (the industry is growing so stats from 2006 understate current emissions). This is not without its problems, but give them credit for trying.

Still in the Northeast, EnCana has proposed a new oil and gas production super-facility that will emit 2.2 Mt per year, with no CCS, making it the largest point source emitter in the province. The project is current under “environmental assessment” and was criticized by the Pembina Institute for GHGs not being considered in the assessment.

So the Burrard Thermal announcement garnering a lot of media coverage will shutter a fraction of the expected increase from EnCana. In fact, EnCana’s 2.2 Mt are equivalent to all of the emissions from cement and aluminum production combined. This is why I’m getting cynical about climate action in BC.

Here’s an idea: BC should impose an immediate moratorium on all new oil and gas development — unless accompanied by carbon capture and storage, and some time between 2020 and 2030 (I’m willing to negotiate) all existing projects would have to implement CCS. This will be bad news for investors in the Northeast, because CCS ain’t cheap, but hey, those investments are threatening human civilization as we know it, and we all have to do our part.

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