In a year where the American mid-west faced the worst drought in a generation, New York was pummelled by super storm Sandy, and the 97% of the Greenland ice sheet melted, Port Metro Vancouver is planning to accelerate the burning of coal, the dirtiest of the fossil fuels.
With no public consultation, the Port is moving quickly to turn Metro Vancouver into North America’s largest coal exporter. They plan to expand an existing terminal in North Vancouver, and open a new transfer station at Fraser Surrey Docks. At full-build, 8 million tonnes of coal will run along the BNSF railway through White Rock and South Surrey, transfer to an open barge on the Fraser River, and float via tugboat to a small Island near the Sunshine Coast for shipment to Asia.
Coal accounts for 20% of global emissions. While oil produces 778 grams of carbon for every kilowatt hour, and natural gas produces 443 grams per kWh, coal can produce up to 1050 grams! In comparison, hydro produces just 10 grams per kWh. If you thought the Premier’s plan to expedite liquefied natural gas to Asia, or Enbridge’s desire to ship raw bitumen to China through the Northern Gateway, were bad, shipping coal east is significantly worse.
For a city that has spent the past several years building a more sustainable reputation, approval of this coal export terminal will tarnish our civic brand. We cannot be hypocrites, touting our electric cars and bike lanes while shipping our carbon emissions elsewhere.
The time to stop releasing carbon is running out quickly. The International Energy Agency has warned that our current emissions trend will lead to a 6 degree Celsius temperature increase by 2100, a catastrophic scenario that would deplete most existing agricultural zones, raise sea levels, render large parts of the Earth uninhabitable, and cause mass migration. The last time the world temperature rose 6 degrees Celsius was 55 million years ago, over a period of 20,000 years – not two centuries. We are truly playing with fire.
Knowing what we do, the continued burning of any fossil fuel is simply unethical. The Port deserves to be reprimanded for trying to ram this project through. Surrey must continue leading the charge towards a clean, green future, not prop up the harmful and dangerous economic policies of the past. Stop this coal terminal immediately.
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Tom Gill: TSGill@surrey.ca
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