An LNG tanker in the ocean with a tugboat

Letter: Commit to decarbonization to address today's crises

Open Letter
Jeudi 19 mai 2022 - 19:50

See the full letter with French and German translation and full list of signatories here. Die deutsche Version des Briefs finden Sie hier.

To: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chancellor Olaf Scholz
Cc: Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan
Minister of Environment Stephen Guilbeault
Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck
Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock
State Secretary and Special Envoy for International Climate Action Jennifer Lee Morgan

Re: Commit to decarbonization to address today’s crises

Die deutsche Version des Briefes finden Sie untenstehend.

Just days after Vladmir Putin ordered the first attack on Ukraine, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report, which detailed an “atlas of human suffering” that is already occurring and will accelerate due to the climate crisis. As UN Secretary General António Guterres said, “There is no kind way to put it. The problem is getting worse. If we continue with more of the same, we can kiss 1.5 goodbye. Even 2 degrees may be out of reach.”

While both Canadian and German governments respond on many fronts to the attack on Ukraine, we cannot forget this is not the only war our peoples face. We are also engaged in a battle against the climate emergency. Ukraine’s delegate to the United Nations, Svitlana Krakovska, recently said, “Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots—fossil fuels—and our dependence on them.”

An appropriate and effective response to these interwoven struggles is to wind down fossil fuel use in the immediate future. Decarbonizing the global energy supply would both end the life-threatening dependence on fossil fuels and serve as a step towards peace on this planet.

Canada and Germany have an existing agreement to cooperate on building renewable energy resources. In light of the need to fight both Putin’s control over Europe’s energy supply and the crushing impact of the climate crisis, we, the undersigned, are calling on you to steer this energy partnership toward an exclusive focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and measures, and to invest in a just transition. This energy partnership should not include exploration or investment in any form of fossil fuel or related infrastructure, including liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Increasing energy efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and our countries have the capacity to meaningfully start that investment today. In Canada and Germany, there is incredible potential to reduce fossil fuel use by investing in deep energy retrofits for all buildings, installing efficient electric heating sources like heat pumps and district heating, and investing in electrified public transit in favour of individual vehicle use. As it stands today, neither country has taken full advantage of the energy savings, nor the potential to decouple from fossil fuels, that can come from deeply investing in energy efficiency.

Renewable energies are faster and cheaper to deploy than new fossil fuel resources of any kind, and with focused attention these renewable resources will only become easier to implement. Unsubsidized utility-scale wind and solar energy production is cheaper than coal, oil, gas, and nuclear energy, and it has been for several years. Utility-scale renewable energy generation facilities can be deployed in one to two years, while liquefied natural gas export terminals can take five to ten. For example, the Goldboro LNG facility in Nova Scotia was originally proposed in 2013, was cancelled in 2021, and is now re-configured into a new project that does not yet have a production timeline. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the proposed Placentia Bay LNG Facility is expected to ship the first LNG in 2030. In Germany, up to seven LNG receiving terminals are now being debated, however these projects are likely to go online only in the next two to five years at the earliest, and even that timeline is very ambitious. All of them face several problems – including their high climate impacts and safety issues.

The governments of Canada and Germany should not be providing financial support for LNG projects because they will increase global emissions. LNG companies like Pieridae (parent company of Goldboro) often suggest their operations can be made climate-neutral by the use of carbon capture, use, and storage technologies (CCUS), but empirical evidence shows that CCUS facilities are a net-contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.

Because of its climate-forcing nature, LNG is out of line with both Canada and Germany’s emissions reductions targets. LNG facilities are intended to operate for at least 20-30 years, which would make the emission reduction targets of both countries impossible to reach.

Building LNG facilities in Canada would likely infringe on Indigenous rights and introduce new threats to the health and safety of Indigenous women. There is already substantial and impactful protest, civil disobedience, and litigation against proposed LNG facilities in Canada, and these movements are only getting stronger as the climate crisis worsens. Building new LNG facilities would also bolster the fracking industry in North America, which is known to produce enormous fugitive emissions and harm local drinking water and human health.

LNG is a false solution to the crises of this moment, as it will not address the fundamental problem of fossil fuel dependence that underpins both the current conflict and the climate emergency. LNG cannot reduce dependence on Russian gas at the pace that is required, and will simply shift that deadly dependence to a different fossil fuel producer.

Ultimately, this is one of our last good chances to address the climate crisis. As IPCC scientists said in no uncertain terms, the “window of opportunity” to address the climate emergency is closing. The war on Ukraine is a glimpse of the very unstable, unsafe, conflict-ridden future that will be ours if we don’t address the climate emergency in the immediate future.

We have to make a choice, now, as peoples and as nations – are we going to address our global dependence on fossil fuels in order to avoid untold human suffering now and in the future? Or will we continue to support the vested interests of the fossil fuel industry?

We, the undersigned, call on you and your governments to:

  • End all subsidies and public funding for LNG in Canada and Germany
  • Stop issuing approvals for new LNG facilities
  • Use the Canada-Germany Energy Partnership to support a rapid buildout of energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy production in both countries, not for the expansion of fossil fuel industry or any fossil fuel infrastructure
  • Introduce legislation to ensure that the transition out of fossil fuels is happening in an environmentally and socially just way, holding up both the needs of workers and the responsibility of corporations

With resolve,

KLIMABÜNDNIS GEGEN LNG / German Climate Alliance Against LNG
Council of Canadians
Andy Gheorghiu Consulting
New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance