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Estimates of oil sands-size emissions from LNG 'a wake-up call': Sterk

British Columbia’s liquefied natural gas industry could someday have a carbon footprint comparable to Alberta’s oil sands, the Pembina Institute recently estimated.

That prospect should be "a wake up call on climate change," B.C. Green Party leader Jane Sterk told The Tyee in an interview.

The Greens are the only party in the upcoming provincial election opposed to liquefying natural gas in massive coastal facilities, loading it onto tankers, and then shipping it to Asian markets.

As The Tyee reported Thursday, if five such facilities were built on B.C.’s coast, they could result in nearly 63 million tons of carbon emissions each year, according to Pembina Institute estimates.

Alberta’s oil sands, often portrayed as one the planet’s greatest contributors to global warming, released 48 millions of carbon in 2010, Environment Canada reported.

Developing a liquefied gas industry in B.C., then, as both the Liberals and NDP are proposing, represents "impoverished thinking" about the economy and the environment, Sterk said.

"This is a national and global issue," she said. "A jurisdiction like B.C. could exercise leadership and transform the economy" into one based on climate solutions, green jobs and renewable energy.

Instead, she added, Premier Christy Clark’s Liberal government has announced more than $120 million in royalty credits to support liquefied gas development.

Not to mention, Sterk said, its continuing support for the $8 billion Site C dam, a potential source of power to coastal gas terminals.

Why not direct tax credits and other financial incentives on a similar scale towards B.C.’s $2.5 billion clean technology industry, as well as renewable energy development, Sterk argued.

"We have the biggest opportunity we’ve ever had to move to a lower carbon economy," she said. "At this stage we just need to change our unwillingness to entertain a different future."

Geoff Dembicki reports for The Tyee.

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