Canada to boost its methane emissions reduction goal [UPDATE]
Canada is committed to increasing methane emissions reductions from its oil and gas sector beyond the 75% reduction by 2030 it has already targeted, a federal environment official said September 20 during the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Ambition Summit in New York.
Catherine Stewart, Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change, made the announcement on behalf of Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, at an event hosted by the Global Methane Hub.
Enhanced upstream oil and gas methane regulations will be published in draft form later this fall, a government backgrounder said. The new regulations will build on earlier targets of a 45% reduction by 2025 and a 75% reduction by 2030, both compared to 2012 levels.
The new regulations will achieve emission reductions through more robust performance standards and a risk-based approach for leak detection and repair, the government backgrounder said. Special attention will be focused on sites with the highest risk of unintentional releases.
But many in the oil and gas sector, including producing provinces like Alberta, expect Ottawa will also try to cap oil and gas production to achieve the reductions, a move that would likely trigger legal challenges from the provinces, which have constitutional authority over energy production.
Two days after the New York announcement, Rebecca Schulz, Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Protected Areas, reacted to what she called Ottawa’s “unilateral” decision to increase the federal emission reduction targets.
“Once again, the federal government has announced that it is unilaterally implementing an unconstitutional policy that will devastate Alberta’s oil and gas industry without any meaningful consultation,” she said in a September 22 statement.
Schulz said Alberta has been making significant reductions in methane emissions for years, and was the first province in Canada to set a methane emission reduction target for the oil and gas sector.
The province, she said, has committed to reducing methane emissions by 45% below 2014 levels by 2025, and by the end of 2021, had achieved a 44% reduction.
“These successes were achieved because our province has been in charge of regulating our methane emissions,” Schulz said. “They were accomplished through collaboration between Alberta’s government and industry, and have proven to be more effective than earlier proposed federal methane regulations that would have otherwise been applied in Alberta.”
Ottawa’s announcement of an increased methane emission reduction target, she said, suggests that the federal government is abandoning Alberta’s proven approach in favour of “top-down, punitive federal regulations” that compromise work that is already underway under the province’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan.
“It is appalling, but not surprising, that the Prime Minister and Minister Guilbeault would find it acceptable to undermine Alberta’s successful work to reduce emissions, all for a photo op in New York,” Schulz said. “These statements also undermine and risk the viability of the work commenced by the Alberta-Ottawa working group currently underway to align Alberta’s and Ottawa’s emissions reduction efforts.”