Halifax, NS - On the heels of the news that Germany and Canada are discussing options for a potential new LNG export terminal on Canada’s East Coast and that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz plans to visit Canada in August perhaps to announce a new LNG deal, a new Abacus Data poll finds Canadians believe climate impacts should be a deciding factor on whether or not to approve any proposed gas export facility.
As Canada’s gas industry pushes to fast-track new East Coast LNG export facilities in the name of ‘helping Europe’, European and North American experts, backed by recent research, say a new East Coast LNG export facility won’t help Europe’s short-term energy crisis and risks becoming a stranded asset.
The Abacus Data poll, conducted between June 17 and 21, 2022, finds a majority of Canadians (52%) believe the federal government should continue to urgently address the climate crisis even in the challenging economic environment – compared to just 37% who believe the government should focus on addressing inflation alone. Support for urgently addressing the climate crisis jumps to 65% among Liberal supporters, and 67% among NDP supporters, with Conservative supporters at 39%.
The poll also finds more Canadians (51%) believe climate impacts should be considered when deciding whether or not to approve a new gas export facility – compared to just a quarter who believe climate impacts shouldn’t play a role in the decision. In Atlantic Canada, 52% believe climate goals should be a deciding factor.
“The IEA’s important Net Zero by 2050 Report said that no new oil, coal or gas projects should go ahead if the world is to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees. Canadians aren’t being fooled by the gas industry’s attempts to profiteer and push its climate-damaging product,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Programs Director at the Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “Instead of pushing for gas expansion, Canada should be ramping up renewable energy to protect consumers’ wallets, future-proof our economy and protect our climate.”
More Canadians (39% vs 28%) believe Canada should reject a new East Coast gas export facility due to climate concerns and that Canada should wind down fossil fuels - not lock into new fossil gas infrastructure. In Quebec, 62% oppose a new export facility on the East Coast due to climate concerns. Double the number of Liberal and NDP supporters oppose the project due to climate concerns, compared to those who disagree.
“Poll after poll shows Canadians care deeply about our climate and a just transition, so why does the federal government continue to subsidize and champion the fossil fuel industry?” Angela Giles, Director of Organizing at the Council of Canadians, says. “Experts are telling us that new Canadian LNG export facilities won’t help Europe’s short-term energy crisis. Canadians want climate action – and that means rejecting new LNG projects that will lock us into 30-plus more years of fossil fuels that wreck our climate.”
Canadians also remain skeptical of fossil fuel subsidies.
- A majority (53%) are frustrated that the federal government has not yet delivered on a 2015 promise to end fossil fuel subsidies.
- Frustration rises to 60% among Atlantic Canadians.
- Nationally, 60% of younger (30-44 years old) and older Canadians (60+) are frustrated.
In the past, Pieridae Energy had asked the federal government for $1 billion for its Goldboro export facility. The poll found just 3 in 10 Canadians support subsidizing an East Coast gas export facility.
- Opposition to federal subsidies for such a project is seen among Liberal and NDP supporters, with 64% of NDP supporters opposed to subsidizing it.
- Among Liberal supporters, 47% oppose subsidizing such a project, while only a quarter are open to subsidizing it.
- Just 26% of Conservatives oppose subsidizing such a project.
“This week Pieridae Energy announced yet another poorly thought out project for LNG export on the East Coast. No matter what greenwashing the company turns to, nothing can hide that gas is an outdated fossil fuel. Canada should be focusing its efforts and investments on what Atlantic Canadians actually want - proven climate solutions that will benefit communities here without devastating our climate," says Thomas Arnason McNeil, Climate Policy Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre.
The poll casts doubt on whether Canadians believe the gas industry’s claim that a new East Coast facility would help Europe’s energy woes. Canadians are divided on whether a new East Coast facility would help Europe (32%) or be pointless (34%) as Europe’s energy needs could be addressed sooner, in other ways. This divide is seen across Canadians of all ages.
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has said it would take five years to open either Repsol SA’s Saint John LNG in New Brunswick or Pieridae Energy Ltd.’s Goldboro LNG in Nova Scotia. Experts in both Europe and North America have flagged that any new East Coast LNG export facility would not help Europe’s short-term energy crisis and risks becoming a stranded asset, in part due to mismatched time horizons.
“Opening a new LNG export facility in five years would be irrelevant to the current energy crisis in Europe. Building a new LNG export facility in Canada sounds like an enormous stranded asset in the making,” says Brian O'Callaghan, Lead Researcher and Project Manager, Oxford Economic Recovery Project, Oxford University. “One of the worst possible uses for public funds in this current crisis would be on slow-to-implement fossil fuel infrastructure.”
More quotes from European experts - including German experts - plus research summaries available here.
Key findings of the Abacus Data poll, available here.
View the Abacus Data poll, here.
For interview contact information for the Sierra Club Canada Foundation and the Council of Canadians please contact Media@sierraclub.ca