In their editorial on May 31, [“How will the Woodfibre LNG saga end?”] The Squamish Chief editorial staff called the District of Squamish’s motion asking for Woodfibre LNG to meet the recommended IPCC climate targets a “gesture.” It’s not. Let me explain why.
How does the process work?
Woodfibre LNG has applied for a five-year extension to its environmental assessment certificate (EAC), which expires on Oct. 26.
As a member of the Technical Working Group, the District of Squamish has the opportunity to provide feedback on Woodfibre LNG’s extension application.
The purpose of the review process is to assess the proponent’s rationale for requesting an extension to its EAC, and to identify new information that has come to light since the EAC was granted that could change the conclusions reached in the original environmental assessment. This includes new scientific information and policy changes.
Members of the Technical Working Group may wish to recommend that an extension should not be granted, or to recommend additional conditions that should be added if an extension is granted.
What’s changed in the last five years?
In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that we must immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming to 1.5 degrees to avoid worsening the long-lasting and irreversible impacts of climate change.
More than 475 municipalities across Canada declared a climate emergency in 2019, including the City of Vancouver, Squamish, Bowen Island, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, and Surrey. Squamish Nation also declared a climate emergency, and so has the Federal Government.
Why wouldn’t the District of Squamish take this opportunity to inform the BC Environmental Assessment Office of the changes to scientific understanding and to highlight that they have declared a climate emergency? Why wouldn’t they ask for specific conditions to be added to hold Woodfibre LNG accountable for the local greenhouse gas emissions they will produce?
In the next 10 years, every person who lives in Squamish will have to cut their personal greenhouse gas emissions by 45% below 2010 levels by 2030. Each and every person will have to change their behaviour so that we can ensure that future generations have a livable planet. We will need to change how we get around, what energy we use in our homes, what food we eat, what garbage we produce, and how much we consume.
Woodfibre LNG also needs to do its fair share. Did you know that this one project will produce 142,100 tonnes of local greenhouse gas emissions? The entire community of Squamish with a population of over 20,000 people produces 95,420 tonnes of local greenhouse gas emissions. Think about that for a minute.
That’s why this motion by the District of Squamish is so important. Both West Vancouver and Gibsons councils have passed similar motions calling for Woodfibre LNG to be held accountable to the IPCC climate targets. Bowen Island council went a step further and also passed a motion reiterating that they do not support the Woodfibre LNG project.
There is no guarantee that Woodfibre LNG will receive an extension to their EAC. But if they do, then they need to be held accountable for their local greenhouse gas emissions.
My Sea to Sky