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December 3, 2018

Forty leading climate scientists and experts call for stronger B.C. climate targets and warn
about climate impacts of fracking and LNG projects

In advance of the expected release of the B.C. government’s climate plan this month, forty
leading climate scientists and experts have written a letter asking the province to
strengthen climate targets, introduce a binding climate test for energy projects and end
subsidies for fracked LNG as part of its climate strategy.

The scientists include Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon, Dr. Kirsten Zickfeld and
Dr. Damon Matthews. The letter was sent Sunday to Premier John Horgan, Minister of
Energy and Mines Michelle Mungall, and Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Strategy George Heyman. The provincial clean growth strategy is expected to be shared
during COP 24, the UN Climate Change Conference which kicked off in Katowice, Poland

“Climate change is already causing devastating damage in British Columbia, through

drought, forest die-off and wildfires. Yet the province’s plans for massive exports of LNG are
radically incompatible with any credible policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fracked
gas isn’t the fuel for our economic future; it’s a fuel from our economic past. It’s time B.C.
got serious about the future,” said Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon, Professor and CIGI Chair of
Global Systems, University of Waterloo Faculty of Environment.

The scientists are calling for B.C.’s climate targets to be revised to a fifty per cent reduction
by 2030 compared to 2007 and zero emissions by 2050, consistent with the recent Special
Report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and establishing
five-year interim targets for each sector of the economy. They have requested a binding
climate test in environmental impact assessments to ensure new industrial projects do not
undermine B.C.’s ability to meet 5 year sectoral targets. In addition, the scientists are calling
on the government to stop subsidizing LNG Canada due its significant greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions and reject plans that would lock B.C. into more fossil fuel extraction and
associated emissions for decades to come.

“It is reassuring that the B.C. government is proposing measures to meet its current
provincial emissions targets. The latest science is clear, however, that we need to be
targeting net zero emissions by 2050 if we want to have any reasonable chance of staying
below 1.5°C and avoiding some potentially catastrophic climate damages. It is really difficult
to see how we can achieve this if we continue to invest in major new high-emitting fossil
fuel projects that will be operating over the same time that we need to be rapidly removing
high-carbon sources from our energy mix,” said Damon Matthews, Professor and Research
Chair at Concordia University.

“The B.C. government is taking steps in the right direction, for example with its intended
target for sales of zero emissions cars. These steps to reduce emissions, however, will be
overshadowed by the emissions from new LNG terminals. Building new LNG infrastructure is
inconsistent with meeting B.C.’s current climate targets, let alone meeting the more
stringent targets that are needed to keep global warming below the limit of 1.5-2 degrees of
warming,” said Dr. Kirsten Zickfeld, Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University and lead
author of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15) by the IPCC.

"We have already committed to a certain amount of irreversible sea level rise and loss of
water resources because of past decisions. Making new long term investments in the fossil
fuel industry and its infrastructure is completely at odds with Canada’s international
commitments to greenhouse gas reductions and the necessity of reaching net zero
emissions by mid-century," said Gwenn Flowers, Professor, Simon Fraser University
Department of Earth Sciences.

The scientists and climate experts are deeply concerned about the effects of climate change
in Canada and globally. The recent special report issued last month by the IPCC showed that
on the current trajectory, the planet will warm by 1.5 degrees around 2040 and that halting
the warming trend close to this critical threshold will require meeting net zero emissions
mid-century. Doing so requires all countries of the world to stop building new fossil fuel

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Editors: The scientists’ letter is pasted below this message and is also available at the
following link:


Lynne Quarmby, Professor, Simon Fraser University
(778) 782-4474

Thomas F. Pedersen, Professor Emeritus, University of Victoria
(250) 880-7904

Danny Harvey, Professor, University of Toronto
(416) 428-4601

Damon Matthews, Associate Professor and Research Chair, Concordia University

Gwenn Flowers, Professor, Simon Fraser University
Full text of the scientists’ letter:

Dear: Honourable John Horgan, Premier

Cc: Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Honourable Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy and Mines

From: Climate Change Scientists and Climate Policy Experts

Date: December 2, 2018

Re: LNG Canada and B.C. climate targets in light of the 2018 IPCC report

Dear Premier Horgan,

We, the undersigned scientists and climate experts, are calling on the B.C. government to:

1. Revise and implement B.C.’s climate targets to a 50% reduction by 2030

compared to 2007[i] and zero emissions by 2050, following the recommendation
of the IPCC and including 5-year interim targets for each sector of the economy.
2. Include a climate test in environmental impact assessment for all industrial
projects to ensure new infrastructure does not undermine the ability to meet 5
year sectorial targets.
3. Stop subsidizing LNG Canada due its significant adverse environmental effects
from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

As scientists and climate experts, we are deeply concerned about the effects of climate
change in this country and abroad. We conclude:

Stronger targets are essential

 The IPCC report concluded that avoiding catastrophic climate impacts requires
“rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.[ii] The
findings of the report make it clear that all countries of the world must stop
building new fossil fuel projects. It also suggested that B.C.’s – and many other
jurisdictions’ – emission reduction targets[iii] are inconsistent with avoiding
dangerous warming. The IPCC report shows that on the current warming
trajectory, the planet will have warmed a total of 1.5°C around 2040 and that
halting the warming trend close to this critical threshold will require meeting net
zero emissions mid-century.
 While many other countries have reduced their emissions.[iv] B.C.’s emissions have
been increasing in four of the last five years[v] and the provincial emissions are
still close to 2007 levels.
Having targets is insufficient unless they are implemented

 Develop 5-year emission reduction targets for each sector of the economy for 2020,
2025, 2030 and coming decades, based on the UK model,[vi]outlining how each
sector including the LNG industry will contribute to the overall provincial target.

LNG Canada is not compatible with B.C.’s existing climate targets, let alone the stronger
targets required

 Estimates of emissions from the LNG Canada facility by the Pembina

Institute[vii] and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives[viii] range from 8.6
to 12 million tonnes. The project would consume the vast majority of even B.C.’s
weak current 2050 emission target (13 million tonnes).
 The provincial estimate, 3.45 million tonnes of emissions from LNG Canada, only
considers the first half of the project and does not include all of the upstream
emissions caused by extraction and transporting the gas destined for LNG
 Estimates do not include increased emissions from burning exported LNG abroad.
This would add another 38 million tonnes annually for each phase[x]of the project
(i.e. 76 million tonnes total) in other countries, exceeding all emissions from
within B.C. today.

Higher than reported methane leakage makes fracked gas as bad for the climate as coal

 Recent research suggests that methane emissions from fracking are at least 2.5
times higher than what the province estimates and that almost half of BC’s active
wells are emitting methane-rich plumes.[xi] NASA recently attributed the global
increase of the powerful greenhouse gas methane to the oil and gas
industry.[xii] While methane does not stay as long in the atmosphere as carbon
dioxide, it is 84 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas in the short term (i.e.
over a 20 year period). Depending on the rate of methane leakage from fracking
wells the climate impact of the use of gas can be as bad as the use of coal.[xiii]

Limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels will require a
massive effort to reduce emissions. We therefore request that you strengthen B.C.’s climate
targets, including 5-year sectoral targets, implement a climate test, reject plans that would
lock us in fossil fuel extraction and GHG emissions for decades to come, and withhold
subsidies for LNG Canada to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

There are few jurisdictions in the world with a greater opportunity to lead and inspire
others than British Columbia. The matter is urgent and we look forward to your rapid


Signed (institutional affiliations are provided for identification purposes only):

Christopher R. Barnes CM, FRSC, DSc, PhD, PGeo, Professor Emeritus, School of Earth and
Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria (Canada)

Julia K. Baum, Associate Professor of Biology, EWR Steacie Fellow, PEW Fellow in Marine
Conservation, University of Victoria (Canada)

Dr. Eddy C. Carmack, Senior Research Scientist Emeritus, Department of Fisheries and
Oceans, Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney B.C. (Canada)

Peter U. Clark, Distinguished Professor of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon
State University (United States)

Garry K. C. Clarke, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences,
University of British Columbia (Canada)

Dr. Isabelle Coté, Professor of Marine Ecology, Simon Fraser University (Canada)

Dr. Curran Crawford, Associate Professor, Institute for Integrated Energy Systems, University
of Victoria (Canada)

Dr. Kerry R. Delaney, PhD, Professor, University of Victoria (Canada)

Jacques Derome, Professor Emeritus, Dynamical Meteorology and Climatology, Atmospheric

and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University (Canada)

Stephen Déry, Professor, Environmental Science and Engineering Program, University of

Northern British Columbia (Canada)

Gwenn E. Flowers, Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University


Eric Galbraith, ICREA Research Professor, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain)

Bill Gutowski, Professor of Meteorology, Department of Geological & Atmospheric Science,

Iowa State University (United States)

James E. Hansen, PhD, Professor, Columbia University (United States)

Danny Harvey, Professor, Department of Geography, University of Toronto (Canada)

Claude Hillaire-Marcel, D. és Sci, FRSC, Life Emeritus Professor, Université du Québec


Thomas Homer-Dixon, Professor and CIGI Chair of Global Systems, Faculty of Environment,
University of Waterloo (Canada)
Dr. Karen E. Kohfeld, Professor, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon
Fraser University (Canada)

René Laprise, Professeur, Département des Sciences de la Terre et de l'Atmosphère,

Université du Québec à Montréal (Canada)

Shawn Marshall, Professor, University of Calgary (Canada)

Damon Matthews, Professor and Concordia Research Chair, Geography, Planning and
Environment, Concordia University (Canada)

Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies, Middlebury

College, Co-founder of (United States)

Brian Menounos, PhD, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Glacier Change, University of
British Columbia (Canada)

Lawrence Mysak, Canada Steamship Lines Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic
Sciences, McGill University (Canada)

Thomas F. Pedersen, PhD, FRSC, FAGU, Professor Emeritus, School of Earth and Ocean
Sciences, University of Victoria (Canada)

W.R. Peltier, PhD, Professor and Director of the Centre for Global Change Science, University
of Toronto (Canada)

Stephen Pond, Professor Emeritus, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of
British Columbia (Canada)

Lynne Quarmby, PhD, Professor, Simon Fraser University (Canada)

William E. Rees, PhD, FRSC, Professor Emeritus, SCARP, University of British Columbia,
Faculty of Applied Science (Canada)

Dr. James Renwick, Professor of Physical Geography, School of Geography, Environment and
Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand)

D.W. Schindler, OC, AOE, FRS, FRSC, Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology Emeritus,
University of Alberta (Canada)

Steven Sherwood, Professor, ARC Laureate Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate
Extremes, UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales
Drew Shindell, Nicholas Professor of Earth Science, Nicholas School of the Environment,
Duke University (United States)

Lev Tarasov, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography,

Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada)

James Tully, Emeritus Distinguished Professor, University of Victoria (Canada)

Dr. Diana E. Varela, Professor, Department of Biology & School of Earth and Ocean Sciences,
University of Victoria (Canada)

John B. Walsh, Emeritus Professor of Math, University of British Columbia (Canada)

Dr. Anne V. T. Whyte, PhD, F.R.S.C., Environmental Scientist, Victoria, BC (Canada)

Louise Wootton, PhD, Chair of Biology, Director of Sustainability, Georgian Court University
(United States)

Boris Worm, Killam Research Professor, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University


Kirsten Zickfeld, PhD, Associate Professor, Simon Fraser University (Canada)


[i] The IPCC calls for 45% reduction by 2030, compared to 2010. BC’s baseline year,
however, is 2007. In order to meet the remaining carbon pollution budget for BC consistent
with the IPCC recommendation the province has to meet 48.5% reduction by 2030,
compared to 2007. This is the reason why we are suggesting 50%. BC GHG emissions were
64.66 million tonnes in 2007 and 60.578 million tonnes in 2010.
[iii] B.C.’s current targets are a 40% reduction by 2030 and 80% by 2050, compared to 2007