Opinion: B.C. LNG not the ‘greenest’ time for Clark to get real about LNG emissions

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horgan_portraits_spring15_0905-cropWhen Christy Clark promised British Columbians that we would have the greenest LNG industry in the world, I wasn’t alone in hoping it wasn’t just hot air.

I’ve always supported the idea of building an LNG industry in British Columbia. Done right, it could provide our province with revenue that could be used to improve public education, strengthen our health care system, and better provide for those most in need. But LNG can’t be pushed forward at any cost.

It can’t continue the dark legacy of provincial governments forcing projects on First Nations. It can’t leave British Columbians behind when it comes to good-paying jobs receiving a fair return for our resources. And, it can’t come at the expense of clean air, land and water. That means it must be developed in a way that minimizes its climate impacts.

Unfortunately, far from showing climate leadership, Christy Clark decided not to count 70 per cent of LNG emissions when she passed legislation last year. That’s everything upstream from the factory gate. We can and must do better than that.

I’m not the only one who thinks so. The Trudeau Liberal government has made it clear that this 70 per cent gap in Christy Clark’s LNG emissions plan is not of a credible approach to climate change concerns. They are taking a fresh look at LNG projects being proposed with an eye to their impact on climate change. And they are making it clear that Christy Clark can’t pretend that upstream LNG emissions don’t exist.

Premier Clark wants people to believe we have to choose between the economy and the environment. But that’s simply not true.

I’m a problem solver. I’m more interested in results than photo ops. The world’s greenest LNG is not an impossible standard to meet, and by working together we can find a way to build the industry while still taking action to tackle climate change. B.C. has some of the world’s brightest scientific minds living and working here. We should be tapping into that talent to come up with solutions.

Providing people with honest accounting and hard facts is how you earn their support. British Columbians deserve to know both the costs and the benefits of proposed LNG projects. But instead of bringing people together to make the LNG industry better, Christy Clark decided to focus her efforts on making the industry a political wedge issue.

This politics-first approach hasn’t delivered results. Three years after promising a $100 billion LNG windfall, British Columbians have yet to see a dime. Even as Christy Clark cuts back on environmental regulations and signs agreements slashing public benefits from these projects, we are yet to see any final investment decisions.

By playing political games instead of taking real action to address environmental concerns about LNG, Christy Clark has set back the industry with the federal government, with the public, and with First Nations. And she has abandoned B.C.’s climate change goals — she just hasn’t admitted it yet.

British Columbians deserve better. This province deserves leadership that’s about delivering on promises, not just making them. A government that’s honest about the challenges facing our province as we do our part to transition to a lower-carbon future.

We have the resources, the know-how and the desire to be world leaders in the fight against climate change. An LNG industry can fit into that fight, but only if we’re prepared to be honest about its impacts and work to mitigate them.

John Horgan is the leader of B.C.’s New Democrats.

This article originally appeared in the Vancouver Sun