Marketing LNG as a climate saviour at Madrid summit isn’t going to work – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – December 11, 2019)

Good news for Canada! It is no longer in the running for the Fossil of the Day Award, which is bestowed by environmental activists on countries going out of their way to ensure the planet achieves burnt toast status. This week, at the Madrid climate summit, Australia and the United States have emerged as the big winners.

The bad news? The Canadian oil and gas industry will probably leave the United Nations climate conference with no prize of its own. It had hoped that exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) would play a role in reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions. Gas burns more cleanly than coal and the industry wanted Canada to earn emission credits by, say, exporting the fuel to China, where it might displace coal in power plants.

The idea seems to be going nowhere. Even Jonathan Wilkinson, the Environment Minister who made his international debut on Tuesday in Madrid, has played down the chances of LNG exports fitting into Canada’s emissions-reduction effort. “I think we have to be very careful about the LNG argument,” he told The Globe and Mail ahead of his arrival at the summit known as COP25.

The main purpose of COP25 is to reach a deal on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, struck in 2015, which saw almost 200 countries set out fairly ambitious carbon-reduction targets to try to stop average global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 C over preindustrial levels. Article 6 would establish a global emissions trading system, and transparent and fair rules to govern it.

Countries with low emissions could sell their allowances to those with high emissions. Putting a price on carbon would encourage high-emission countries to clean up their act. The supply and demand of allowances would create a global carbon price and marketplace. And a high-emission country could earn allowances by, say, financing a tree-planting project in Africa.

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