A new study by Resource Works suggests that three City of Vancouver policies, in the Canadian province of British Columbia, amount to a de facto ban on natural gas, and could actually lead to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Taken together, the policies – the Renewable City Strategy, the Zero Emissions Building Plan and the Green Buildings Policy for Rezoning – pursue Vancouver’s goal of becoming 100% emissions free by 2050, largely by using biomethane to replace conventional natural gas.
But the study suggests it’s unlikely that there will be sufficient volumes of biomethane produced in BC over the next three decades to replace conventional gas. In the meantime, focusing on an elusive renewable energy target could actually lead to increased GHG emissions by ignoring other, more proven energy-reducing technologies.
“While the rest of the world is rushing to embrace natural gas and its positive climate attributes, the City of Vancouver is sowing confusion and moving us backward on climate,” said Stewart Muir, executive director of Resource Works. “Planned constraints on energy sources, without new technology or sufficient alternatives, means not only that costs will go up, but that they will be disproportionately passed along to those who, in some cases can least afford them.”
Vancouver uses an estimated 26.6 million GJ (685 million cubic metres) of natural gas each year, but by 2035 – half way to the target date – total biomethane supply in BC, without major technological advances in the biothermal conversion of wood, is expected to reach only 11.9 million GJ.