Asia’s demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is rising fast as countries look for cleaner alternatives to coal while their economies expand.
To significantly reduce emissions, the LNG should come from Canada, according to a new report by global research consultancy Wood Mackenzie.
If Canada increases its LNG export capacity to Asia, net emissions could decline by 188 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year – or the annual impact of taking 41 million cars off the road, analysts wrote.
“It’s like taking all of the cars in Canada away, if we were able to build all of those projects,” said Matthias Bloennigen, Wood Mackenzie’s director of Americas upstream consulting.
“It reduces emissions globally, so it’s for the good of everyone.”
To reach global net zero emissions by 2050, the largest reductions will likely need to come from the power sector, analysts wrote.
The heart of the opportunity is switching from coal-fired to gas-fired power plants, particularly in Asia.
Natural gas – traded globally as LNG – produces less than half the emissions of coal when used in power generation.
And it’s a so-called “baseload” reliable fuel that can help offset the intermittency of wind and solar as renewables take on a larger share of the global energy mix, analysts wrote.
“Gas is also cost-competitive and there are large global reserves in many countries, including Canada,” the report said.
“If Canada does not export as much LNG as anticipated to northeast Asia, the region would need to rely on LNG from elsewhere that has a higher emissions intensity.”
If Canada limits its LNG exports to one or two projects, total emissions in northeast Asia would increase by 121 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent through 2050, analysts wrote.
But if Canada significantly increases LNG capacity to help northeast Asia reduce its reliance on coal, net emissions would decline by 5,459 mtCO2e over the same period.
“LNG from Canada going into northeast Asia has lower emissions than LNG coming from many other global LNG exporters,” the report said.
LNG from western Canada has average life cycle emissions intensity 12 kgCO2e/mmbtu, compared to 21 kgCO2e/mmbtu for projects in the United States.
“With its high environmental standards and stewardship, Canada would be a great partner to fill the LNG demand gap in Asia,” Wood Mackenzie analysts wrote.
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