OTTAWA — Canada is the first country in the world to commit to national methane emission regulations for the oil and gas industry, marking an important shift toward climate protection.
Announced today, the regulations help uphold a major plank in the federal government’s commitment to the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, in which Canada committed to cutting the oil and gas industry’s methane pollution by 40 to 45 per cent over the next eight years. The policy represents the most significant contribution to ensuring the oil and gas industry is accountable for reducing its greenhouse gas pollution and serves as a responsible partner in an effective national climate action plan.
“Today, the federal government enacted a critical solution in Canada’s national climate plan,” said Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. “With these regulations, the oil and gas industry will have a clear responsibility to be a stronger partner, joining citizens and communities that are already working hard to reach our country’s climate targets.”
“The technology exists to cut methane pollution from Canada’s oil and gas sector, and peer-reviewed research shows that it’s one of the cheapest, easiest and most effective ways to address climate change,” Bruce said.
With this federal legal standard in place, the onus now shifts to the provinces to meet or exceed the federal benchmark, and for the federal government to uphold the provincial equivalency requirements if a province lags behind.
“We’ve already seen indications from provinces that are not doing their part—in particular, Alberta,” Bruce said. “We expect the federal government to step up and hold the provinces accountable and ensure there is a level playing field.”
In its 2017 confidence and supply agreement, the B.C. government promised to reduce methane pollution from the oil and gas industry by eliminating a long-standing loophole and applying the carbon tax to the oil and gas industry’s methane emissions.
“We hope the B.C. government will seize this global leadership opportunity by implementing strong provincial regulations on methane pollution and acting on its commitment to apply the carbon tax to fugitive methane emissions from our province’s largest emitters,” Bruce said. “If done properly, B.C. could set provincial best practices for the rest of the country and establish the province as an undeniable global climate action leader.”
Peer-reviewed research from the David Suzuki Foundation and other academic studies confirms that federal and provincial governments and industry continue to vastly underreport fugitive methane emissions from Canada’s oil and gas industry. Research published last year by the Foundation and St. Francis Xavier University found that methane emissions from B.C.’s oil and gas industry are at least 2.5 times higher than industry and government report.
“These underreported methane emissions from B.C. and Canada’s oil and gas companies are among the most serious greenhouse gas problems we face in the country,” Bruce said. “We know the solutions are at hand. Canada can create jobs by cleaning up methane pollution and reducing wasted product from the oil and gas sector, while also investing in renewable energy, helping us diversify our energy mix and create a thriving, modernized economy.”
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Methane emissions – background:
Over a 20-year period, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate pollutant. Leading scientists estimate that methane is responsible for 25 per cent of already observed changes to Earth’s climate. This is why it’s identified as a top climate priority globally.
Last year, the International Energy Agency reported that the oil and gas industry emits around 76 million tonnes of methane worldwide every year and that about 40 to 50 per cent of these GHG emissions can be reduced at no net cost. The IEA has said taking global action to reduce these emissions would have the same climate benefit by 2100 as eliminating all coal plants in China.
The main reason the IEA (and similar regional studies) find that 40 to 50 per cent of methane emissions reductions are free, or profitable, is because industry can sell the natural gas captured. Environmental Defense Fund estimates that the 76 million tonnes of methane emitted globally every year could add up to approximately US$34 billion in new profit, instead of ending up as “lost product”.
Read the David Suzuki Foundation’s academic research, Mobile measurement of methane emissions from natural gas developments in Northeastern British Columbia, Canada.
Infrared video clips of methane pollution and photos of abandoned and leaking wells in British Columbia’s Montney region are available by contacting the Foundation.
Read the April 26 joint Canadian / U.S. NGO news release (signed by the Clean Air Task Force, Climate Action Network, David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, Environmental Defense Fund, Equiterre and Pembina Institute).
For more information, please contact:
Emily Fister, 604-440-5470, firstname.lastname@example.org