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Protesting Canadian LNG Exports is Bad for Sustainability

Cody Battershill

Oil and natural gas demand continues to rise while Canadian exports face long-standing domestic protests that thwarts market access. The result is that Canadians are missing out on a huge opportunity in global energy markets.

European nations are scrambling to install new LNG import facilities, often floating LNG import facilities known as floating storage and regasification units. FSRUs can be installed more quickly than onshore, permanent import terminals.

Some 25 new FSRUs are set for installation across the EU in the coming years, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights data, with the first facilities expected to be operational before year-end.

In Germany, fear of gas shortages has the country stockpiling wood as an alternative to gas-generated heat, even as some experts warn of respiratory and cardiovascular health repercussions from particulate matter emitted in wood combustion.

And, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a sharp drop in Russian gas flows to the continent, Britain is soon to receive a rare shipment of LNG from Australia as countries across Europe strive to secure supplies before winter.

Meanwhile, news reports indicate that UK pub, restaurant and hotel spokespeople – faced with energy bills that have skyrocketed by 300 per cent – are warning of mass closures this winter if there isn’t urgent government support.

I think you know where I’m going with this.

There’s real environmental, social and economic damage that results from blocking Canadian LNG exports. Some of this damage is to Canada specifically, while other damage is more international in scope.

First, in relation to Canada, strong competition means other supplier nations benefit when our country is unfairly blocked from participating in global markets.

Second, it’s wrong that more carbon-intensive energy technologies are chosen to fill the gap in countries that lack enough clean-burning LNG – especially Canadian LNG, produced to the most exacting environmental requirements on the planet.

Canada’s sterling record for social fairness, Indigenous and non-Indigenous community health and safety, worker rights, equality and the like, makes our product all the more desirable in a world that professes to care about these issues.

As Qatar pushes to be the ‘go-to’ emergency gas supplier for Europe, I wonder whether the nation that, ranks far lower than Canada on many ESG rankings is the ideal energy supplier to advanced European societies.

Argentina, Qatar, Angola, Algeria, Mexico, Qatar, Australia, the USA, Mozambique and others are full speed ahead with LNG, benefiting from projects operating and planned while here at home LNG protests against our stringently regulated natural gas sector make things worse for Canadians and more lucrative for our competitors.

Canadians deserve much better.

Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder / spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer-initiated group that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.