The climate impact of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export from North America is one of the most pressing questions for Canadian and world energy policy today. This paper performs the first life cycle assessment (LCA) of the greenhouse gas emissions from LNG exports from Canada, assuming that importing countries use the natural gas for electricity generation. It shows that the climate impact of LNG depends on where it is sent. If LNG from Canada displaces electricity in coal-dependent countries, it will likely lower global greenhouse gas emissions. If it displaces electricity from countries that rely on low carbon sources such as hydroelectricity and nuclear power, it will likely increase global emissions. A broad suite of policy and regulatory measures is discussed for reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to LNG export, from life cycle regulation to facility-level emissions management.
Canadian Institute of Resources Law
liquefied natural gas, climate change, natural gas exports, energy policy, energy trade
James W. Coleman, Adebola Kasumu, et al, Calibrating Liquefied Natural Gas Export Life Cycle Analysis: Accounting for Legal Boundaries & Post-Export Markets, Canadian Institute of Resources Law, Occasional Paper No. 49 (2015)