Metlakatla, Lax Kw’alaams, Nisga’a and Haisla commit to fight climate change internationally

First Nations launch Northwest Coast First Nations Collaborative Climate Initiative

Four First Nations on B.C.’s North Coast have signed a first-of-its-kind agreement to use B.C.’s LNG sector to fight climate change on the international stage.

On Wednesday, Oct. 9 leadership from the Coast Tsimshian — Lax Kw’alaams Band and Metlakatla First Nation, the Haisla Nation and the Nisga’a Nation announced the creation of the Northwest Coast First Nations Collaborative Climate Initiative.

“The reality is that Canada can make a much greater impact on climate change by displacing coal with B.C. LNG in Japan and China than we could if new LNG projects weren’t to proceed. Our Nations want to support the reduction of [greenhouse gases] as much as possible and displacing coal with B.C. LNG can make a major contribution,” said Harold Leighton, Metlakatla First Nation chief councilor.

The four Nations signed the initiative’s MOU while attending the World Indigenous Business Forum in Vancouver.

They agreed to collaborate on achieving their shared vision of implementing a First Nation climate policy framework at both the provincial and federal levels of government to mitigate climate change on a global level.

“Our community members are all concerned about climate change – we see its effects in our own backyards,” said Eva Clayton, president of the Nisga’a Nation.

READ MORE: Historic agreement signed between First Nations, governments for PNW monitoring committee

“We need to make a serious impact. Local initiatives that reduce emissions in B.C. by a few million tonnes per year are worthy goals, but they are not enough. We need to take action locally and globally.”

The Nations believe a major focus of all climate policy frameworks should be the replacement of coal-fired generation in the most polluting jurisdictions of the world with natural gas products from B.C.

Burning LNG in power plants produces roughly 40 per cent fewer green house gas emissions compared to coal.

“Our Nations are committed to working collaboratively with each other, with federal and provincial governments, with other First Nations, with energy project developers and with environmental organizations to get the policy framework right and to help plan and construct the electrification infrastructure to deliver new sources of renewable electricity to the region,” said John Helin, Lax Kw’alaams band mayor.

The leaders also believe some of the credit for the reduction in global greenhouse gases (GHG) should be transferred to Canada from countries who receive the natural gas through the Internationally Transferable Mitigation Outcomes, as enabled under Article 6 of the Paris Accord. This allows for climate change mitigation activities in one country to be transferred to another.

Crystal Smith, Haisla Nation chief councillor, said that B.C. could reduce as much as 64 million tonnes of greenhouse gases within on year if coal-fired facilities in Asia were replaced with a single electrified medium-to-large LNG plant.

“We are very pleased to know that this kind of displacement is a key objective of Shell’s LNG Canada project: the world needs more of this and so do our communities,” she said.

The agreement also says that B.C.’s gas products will be delivered by First Nations through their territories and businesses under the highest environmental standards while contributing to local nations’ economic self-determination and alleve poverty.


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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