Environment minister says government is activating ‘one of the most powerful levers’ it has against climate change by addressing methane emissions.
By Noé Chartier
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has unveiled new draft regulations seeking to accelerate the reduction of methane emitted by the oil and gas sector.
“By tackling methane emissions, we’re activating one of the most powerful levers we have against climate change,” Mr. Guilbeault said Dec. 4 from the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai.
The minister says the new draft regulations aim to reduce methane emissions from Canada’s oil patch by at least 75 percent by 2030.
The federal government published its first methane regulations for the oil and gas sector in 2018, which sought to reduce emissions by up to 45 percent by 2025, based on 2012 levels.
Mr. Guilbeault said Canada is on track to surpass that goal and is therefore accelerating the emissions reduction pace, in line with a recommendation from the International Energy Agency.
Environment and Climate Change Canada says that oil and gas facilities are the largest industrial methane emitters in the country, releasing about half of total emissions.
The department says the releases can occur from normal operation as well as from leaks, hence regulations will be toughened to increase leak monitoring and inspections.
Mr. Guilbeault said proper monitoring is essential to reduce methane emissions and, to that end, he announced the creation of a Methane Centre of Excellence funded with $30 million.
The draft resolutions also require facilities to undergo an annual inspection by a third-party to verify compliance.
Mr. Guilbeault said his announcement was the result of “strong collaboration” between Ottawa and provinces, but Alberta Premier Danielle Smith reacted shortly afterward.
Ms. Smith said the federal government established the new rules “unilaterally” to “help win international headlines.”
The premier also called the draft regulations unconstitutional and said Alberta would use “every tool at our disposal” to make sure they don’t apply in her province.
Alberta has also invoked its Sovereignty Act last week to reject Ottawa’s plan for a net-zero electricity grid by 2035.
‘More and More Militant’
Mr. Guilbeault spoke at a press conference in Dubai alongside other climate change officials, including U.S. envoy John Kerry.
Mr. Kerry said he is getting “more and more militant and more and more frustrated with the business as usual.”
He said tackling methane emissions is the “fastest, simplest, least expensive, most efficient way of being able to rapidly reduce emissions on the planet” and keep it below a certain warming threshold.
Mr. Kerry spoke positively of the Global Methane Pledge, which has now more than 155 countries as signatories.
But the largest methane emitter, China, has not signed on, though it released a plan with no firm targets in November to tackle those emissions.
The U.S. and China held a summit in late November in the United Arab Emirates and Mr. Kerry said afterward that Beijing would work to make COP28 negotiations a success.
“We intend to work hard to see if there’s further collaboration that could advance the cause for all of us,” Mr. Kerry said after the summit. “Without China and the United States aggressively moving forward to reduce emissions, we don’t win this battle.”
Reuters contributed to this report.