At COP28, Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced at the Global Methane Pledge Ministerial that Canada has published strengthened oil and gas methane regulations to cut emissions from this potent greenhouse gas. This makes good on Canada’s commitment when it became the first country in the world to set a target of reducing oil and gas methane emissions by at least 75 percent from 2012 levels by 2030.

“Lowering methane emissions from our oil and gas sector is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways we can cut the pollution that is fueling climate change. As the world’s fourth largest oil and gas producer, we have both the responsibility and the know-how to do everything we can. At this time of robust profit margins and high energy prices, there has never been a better time for the oil and gas sector to invest in slashing methane emissions,” said Guilbeault.

During this event, John Kerry, the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, highlighted that the United States recently finalized its own oil and gas methane regulations. Canada’s approach is broadly aligned with that of the United States in both form and stringency.

“Great to see Canada taking strong action to achieve deep reductions in oil and gas methane emissions, just as the US finalizes our own regulations. This is an essential strategy to limit warming to 1.5 °C,” said Kerry.

Putting in place broadly aligned rules across North America builds on collaboration on methane emissions that began in 2016. This aligned approach supports the competitiveness of both countries’ energy industries—that include some of the world’s biggest—to become global leaders in responsible energy production. The requirements to further reduce methane emissions in both countries also creates business opportunities for Canada’s clean tech sector, which is a global leader in affordable solutions for methane abatement. Canadian workers have the experience and skills needed to tackle methane emissions here and to help others around the world as they move to lower emissions.

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In advance of COP28, 12 major oil and gas companies had already committed to lowering their methane emissions to near zero by 2030. At COP28, a coalition of 50 oil and gas companies announced their commitment to reduce their methane emissions by 80 to 90 per cent by 2030. They understand the need to become among the cleanest producers of oil and gas in the world. The proposed methane regulations are consistent with Canada’s commitment to cap and cut oil and gas emissions and with calls from the International Energy Agency for all oil- and gas-producing countries to reduce methane emissions from the sector by 75 per  cent by 2030.

The Government of Canada notes the commitments by British Columbia and Alberta to explore ways to achieve a similar reduction target, and welcomes the increased ambition from provinces to tackle their methane emissions. Through continued collaboration with oil and gas-producing provinces, Indigenous partners, industry, and interested stakeholders, Canada will ensure its updated methane regulations achieve the best result possible.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz issued the following statements on the federal government’s proposed methane emissions regulations:

“The federal government has unilaterally established new methane emissions rules and targets to help win international headlines. Instead of building on Alberta’s award-winning approach, Ottawa wants to replace it with costly, dangerous and unconstitutional new federal regulations that won’t benefit anyone beyond Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault’s post-office career.

“Managing emissions from Alberta’s oil and gas industry is our constitutional right and responsibility, not Ottawa’s, and we are getting the job done. Using a province-led approach, Alberta has already reduced methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 45 per cent – hitting our target three years early – and we’re just getting started.”

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The Government of Canada acknowledges further work is required to accurately quantify methane emissions and Canada is working with scientists, academics, and industry to close the gap between reported and measured emissions. As part of the Government’s ambitious methane abatement plan, the Government of Canada also announced today a $30 million investment to establish a Methane Centre of Excellence in the near term that will improve our understanding and reporting of methane emissions, with a focus on collaborative initiatives to support data and measurement.

Interested Canadians are invited to help shape Canada’s updated oil and gas methane regulations. Starting on December 16, 2023, Environment and Climate Change Canada will accept feedback on the draft regulations for 60 days. Comments are requested to be submitted through the new Online Regulatory Consultation System. The deadline for comments is February 14, 2024.

Featured image credit: Getty Images

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