Sep 19, 2011

“Climate change starts here: the BC dirty jobs plan”


We are still on Day One of the Jobs Plan, and the afternoon news is all about proposed liquid natural gas plants in Kitimat, which will take pipelined gas and send it by tanker to Asia. Quoth the Premier:

Creating a new industry with the capacity to export B.C.’s natural gas to overseas markets for the very first time will instantly increase economic prosperity and create jobs. By adopting a more aggressive approach to the development of the natural gas sector, I am confident British Columbia can create a prosperous LNG industry that will bring local jobs to our communities and deliver important dollars into our economy.

A couple months ago I did the math on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with these LNG facilities. Basically, GHG emissions represent a massive carbon bomb:

If we take the 5.5 billion cubic feet per day production number that “could ultimately be much higher”, that adds up to 112 Mt, almost double all of the emissions in BC’s total inventory of GHGs (burning fossil fuels in province and all other sources).

Because the gas will be exported, most of these emissions will count in the GHG inventories of other countries rather than BC. Still, it is our crack they are smoking.

What is the payoff in term of jobs. The press release goes on: “projects are each expected to create approximately 1,500 person-years of work during construction. The export terminal will create 120-140 permanent positions once it is in operation.” There will be additional jobs from fracking all that land to get at the sweet gas.

But overall, our green jobs and sustainable production paper estimated that mining and oil and gas extraction created 523 tonnes of CO2 per worker per year. That is just emissions in BC from extraction and processing. If we were to count emissions elsewhere due to the carbon content of the fuel that is combusted, that figure would be eight times higher.

If the objective of public policy was to put as much carbon in the atmosphere, as quickly as possible, Day One of the BC Jobs tour would have to be counted as a stunning success. For those of us who want a viable future for our kids, it is a tragedy.

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