B.C. only province with rising greenhouse gases

Monday, December 21, 2009

CBC News

British Columbia was the only province in the country to report an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from major industries in 2008, according to figures released by Environment Canada.

The figures cover so-called "facility greenhouse gas emissions" from power plants and heavy industries such as mining, pulp and paper, and petroleum.

British Columbia's dubious distinction was largely the result of oil and gas extraction, Environment Canada said.

The current boom in exploration for shale gas, which has a higher CO2 content, is likely to have played a significant role, energy policy consultant Chris Bataille said.

"On a year-by-year basis I wouldn't want to put too much weight on it," he said, "although in the long run we can probably expect emissions to increase from natural-gas extraction in B.C.'s northeast."

Last week B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell was honoured in Copenhagen for introducing a provincial carbon tax.

But critics such as George Heyman of the Sierra Club say the honour is tainted because the B.C. government continues to offer tax breaks to the petroleum industry.

"This is one of the disturbing contradictions in the Campbell Liberals' climate-change policy," he said. "They've introduced targets, they've introduced a carbon tax — and yet we're actually going in the wrong direction."

But even with last year's poor result, B.C. still ranks far below Alberta in such facility emissions. In 2008, its heavy industries emitted eight times as much greenhouse gas as B.C., Environment Canada figures show.