BCBUSINESS: Canada promises net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But is zero possible?

October 11, 2022
Greg D'Avignon


The least worst

This brings us to the very British Columbian narrative that the optimal strategy for transitioning away from the climate changing effects of fossil fuels is to invest in a less carbon-intensive fossil fuel. That was certainly the consensus at the December 2021 Metro Vancouver Board of Trade Energy Forum, called “Finding Net Zero and Growing Our Economy, Together.” There, five of the nine presenters were from the natural gas industry, and moderator and Bennett Jones LLP partner Sharon Singh got no argument when she declared, “I don’t think there is anyone here who thinks that LNG is a barrier to net zero.”

If that logic seems twisty, Greg D’Avignon, president and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia, is eager to straighten things out, although he admits, “it’s complicated.” In a global energy market, D’Avignon says it’s crucial that we consider the net effect of our energy resources. First, China is on track to quadruple its installed energy generation capacity in the next 30 years—reaching 392 gigawatts by 2050. (For scale, B.C.’s new Site C hydro-electric dam will generate 1 gigawatt.) So, D’Avignon says, whatever burden natural gas adds to B.C.’s emission budget, it’s still better to help China switch its new power sources from dirty coal to cleaner natural gas. And given that B.C.’s natural gas producers are reporting the lowest carbon intensity in the world, he says, it would be better still to be using B.C. natural gas. “We also need money to pay for our own energy transition,” D’Avignon says, adding that natural gas—liquified and exported—could be an important source of that revenue.

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