Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a fuel for ships is a climate disaster

April 28, 2023
This decade, we are at a climate crossroads. The path we choose will either lock in runaway climate chaos or clear the way for a livable future.
lng ship

The ocean shipping sector is already one of the leading contributors to global climate chaos emissions. The fossil fuel industry has been trying to greenwash liquified fracked fossil gas (LNG) as a climate solution for years – and it has been particularly aggressive in trying to sell this false solution to the ocean shipping sector. The reality is that increased use of LNG by the maritime industry will make reaching emission reduction targets all but impossible.

Investment in LNG is nothing short of an environmental and climate disaster. Methane, the main component of LNG, is 80 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas over a 20-year timeframe, and is already causing over 30% of observed global warming. The process of fracking for methane gas is also incredibly destructive, leading to pollution, earthquakes and health problems for nearby residents

The increased use of LNG as a fuel for ships would only worsen the shipping sector’s contribution to climate chaos. The LNG ship engine type that is by far the most popular is also extremely leaky, releasing methane directly into the atmosphere. In fact the use of LNG as a fuel for ships is estimated to be between 70-82% more damaging to the climate than business-as-usual when the whole supply chain is considered. 

Canada’s track record on fracked gas is an embarrassment:

We have the troubling distinction of being home to one of the top three global methane bombs.

The Port of Vancouver, the largest in Canada, shamelessly promotes exclusively industry-funded research on its own website as a justification for the expansion of supporting LNG as a ship fuel. 

BC Ferries has doubled-down on LNG as a fuel for ships, despite a chorus of protests from medical professionals.   

At the same time, Canada has joined with more than 100 governments from around the world to pledge to reduce methane emissions. Promoting fracking and LNG as a fuel for ships flies in the face of the pledge. While we have so far failed to take the easiest and most effective action to slash methane emissions: stop the expansion of fracked gas extraction and the building of infrastructure for LNG, there is no time like the present to rectify this. 

The BC public understands this and would oppose LNG projects that cause the province to miss its climate targets. A large majority support the development of efficiency and renewable energy sources over fracked gas. The BC and federal governments, BC Ferries, port regulators, and other industries need to put a halt to investing in LNG ship infrastructure  and pivot to fossil-free fuels and technologies for the maritime sector. Healthy communities and a livable climate future must come first. 

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