Canada’s interest in boosting liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to tackle energy insecurity in Europe is part of a global trend that risks locking in planet-warming pollution over the next decade, according to new analysis by the Climate Action Tracker.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a majority of governments have moved to produce more fossil gas and expand the industry’s infrastructure instead of taking steps to decarbonize their economies in response to the global energy crisis, the analysis found.

This global “gold rush” for new fossil gas production, pipelines and facilities will put the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5 C out of reach, Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute — a Climate Action Tracker partner organization — said in a news release.

Canada’s plans to fast-track new LNG projects are part of the problem. In early May, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told Reuters the federal government was in talks with fossil fuel companies Repsol and Pieridae Energy about two proposed East Coast LNG export facilities.

Plans for new LNG import terminals are popping up across Europe — including in Germany, Italy, Greece and the Netherlands — and, if completed, could result in the European Union importing twice as much LNG as it did in 2020, the analysis stated.

Climate Action Tracker looked at whether individual countries’ actions across the globe would reduce or increase greenhouse gas emissions and revealed “a plethora” of new gas projects on the horizon.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and International Energy Agency have both separately indicated there is no room for new fossil fuel infrastructure in a climate-safe future because expensive projects — like these new gas plans — can lock in dependence on fossil fuels, which are the main drivers of climate change.

Despite this — and the IPCC’s warning that existing fossil fuel infrastructure already threatens to undermine the world’s climate goals — Climate Action Tracker’s analysis found fossil fuel production has increased in the U.S., Canada, Norway, Italy and Japan. In February, Nigeria, Niger and Algeria agreed to revive a previously dormant natural gas pipeline, and in March, the U.S. signed a deal to export additional LNG to Europe for the remainder of the year.

Canada recently approved the country’s first deepwater offshore drilling project with the requirement it must achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. However, environmentalists point out that calling any oil and gas project “net-zero” is misleading because the majority of emissions that come from fossil fuels are not counted by the companies that produce them. The federal government is also determined to complete the Trans Mountain expansion project, which would twin the existing pipeline transporting oil from Alberta to the West Coast and nearly triple its daily output.

Despite the widespread push for more fossil gas production, the Climate Action Tracker did highlight some emissions-reduction victories. It notes the EU has made strides to ramp up hydrogen production using renewable energy, incentivize energy-saving measures and tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies, as other countries have already done.

Canada’s interest in boosting LNG exports to tackle energy insecurity in Europe is part of a global trend that risks locking in planet-warming pollution over the next decade, according to a new analysis by @climateactiontr.

Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer