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Displace Indian coal power with Canadian natural gas: report

National Bank report points to climate benefits of LNG
LNG Canada CEO Jason Klein at the site of the LNG terminal nearing completion in Kitimat.

Canada is a founding member of the Powering Past Coal Alliance – a consortium of national and subnational governments committed to addressing climate change by phasing out coal power.

Conspicuously absent from the alliance is India, which has signaled plans to double coal production to 1.5 billion tonnes tonnes by 2030 in order to add 88 gigawatts (GW) of new thermal power from coal by 2032, according to the National Bank of Canada.

The amount of greenhouse gases that would produce would wipe out any emissions reductions Canada is able to achieve through its climate change policies many times over, National Bank of Canada says in a new report, which urges investors and policymakers to promote the use of Canadian natural gas, through LNG exports, to replace coal in thermal power generation in places like India.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), GHG emissions can be reduced by 50 per cent when combined cycle natural gas power plants replace thermal power from coal.

So while increased production of natural gas and LNG in Canada would contribute to an increase in Canada’s own GHGs, it could dramatically decrease GHGs outside of Canada, if it displaces coal power.

“Emissions are global, they are not bound by geographical boundaries, as such, we propose to reorient the conversation with a global tilt,” the report says.

“Continued efforts in constraining certain sectors of the economy could be futile in ‘deleveraging’ the global environmental balance sheet as a direct result of other countries increasing their absolute share by orders of magnitude more. “

The report is aimed at investors and policymakers, said report author Baltej Sidhu, ESG research analyst for National Bank of Canada.

“It’s kind of to redirect the conversation, in saying that Canada has a role within global decarbonization, and there is a pathway that we do have,” Sidhu said. “We could be a global leader in this respect.”

If the additional coal power that India plans to build were replaced with natural gas, the National Bank estimates that it would avoid two to four times the emissions that Canada would produce over the forecast period.

“In other words, it has a more profound impact on the planet than a complete shutdown of the Canadian economy,” the report concludes. “As such, we advocate investors begin to consider the impact of avoided emissions, particularly in terms of displacing higher-carbon intensive fuels abroad.

“Overall, Canada can play a critical role in reducing emissions from the use of higher-emitting fuels. While Ottawa once concluded that there was ‘no business case for supporting Germany and then Japan, we clearly see a compelling case for working with India to limit its emissions profile.”