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With a glut of natural gas in North America, Canada’s natural gas sector is looking to reach new global markets for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. The federal government will likely rule soon on environmental assessments of LNG exports facilities on Canada’s west coast.

If LNG from Canada serves coal-dependent countries, mostly in Asia, Canadian LNG will likely lower global greenhouse gas emissions. However, LNG exports to less coal-dependent countries could result in a net emissions increase.

It is impractical for regulators to assess how individual LNG export facilities will affect overseas greenhouse gas emissions because of uncertainty in markets, which presently makes it nearly impossible to predict exactly where the natural gas will be consumed. Instead, Canadian governments should look to reduce domestic emissions and work toward international partnerships that lower greenhouse gas emissions from the entire energy production and use life cycle.

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C.D. Howe Institute

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