COP28: Canada proposes new methane reduction regulations
Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said December 4 his government had published strengthened regulations aimed at cutting methane emissions from the upstream oil and gas sector by at least 75% from 2012 levels by 2030.
Guilbeault made the announcement at COP28 in Dubai as part of the Global Methane Pledge Ministerial. John Kerry, the US presidential envoy for climate, used the same event to highlight that the US had also recently strengthened its own oil and gas methane regulations.
“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,” Guilbeault said. “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.”
Ottawa’s intent to publish stiffer regulations was announced in September at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Ambition Summit by Catherine Stewart, Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change.
Under the new regulations, which are still in draft form, Canada will enhance emissions-monitoring requirements through a risk-based approach that will structure inspections for fugitive emissions, with facilities that have a greater potential for emissions to undergo more frequent inspections.
The inspections must be conducted using instruments with a standard minimum detection limit, a government backgrounder said, and the results will be audited by an independent third party to validate company programme results. Routine venting and flaring will also be eliminated.
The new regulations are expected to reduce cumulative emissions by 217mn tonnes of CO2-equivalent between 2027 and 2040. The first set of requirements under the proposed measures will come into force in January 2027, the backgrounder said.
“We are taking action to support innovation, reduce emissions, and enhance competitiveness across sectors, including in the oil and gas sector,” federal energy minister Jonathan Wilkinson said. “Today’s announcement, which includes a new investment to support the establishment of a Methane Centre of Excellence, will help enhance the oil and gas sector’s competitiveness, while ensuring Canada achieves its methane emissions reductions commitments and the economic, health, and climate benefits that their achievement will bring.”
But Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said Ottawa’s new set of regulations is yet another intrusion by the federal government into areas of provincial jurisdiction under the Canadian Constitution.
“The federal government has unilaterally established new methane emissions rules and targets to help win international headlines,” she said in a joint statement with Alberta environment minister Rebecca Schulz. “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.”
Smith and Schulz are also at COP28 this week showcasing Alberta’s approach to reducing emissions while keeping energy reliable, secure and affordable.
Smith said the new regulations ignore the success Alberta has already achieved in reducing emissions by 45% three years early and impose infrastructure upgrades on the industry that will cost “tens of billions” of dollars and could put “thousands of Albertans” out of work in the coming years.
“A federal government willing to invest $37.7bn into just three battery plants in Ontario and Quebec cannot credibly refuse to provide tax credits and financial incentives for producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan to assist with achieving a carbon-neutral economy by 2050,” Smith and Schulz said in the joint statement. “Given the unconstitutional nature of this latest federal intrusion into our provincial jurisdiction, our government will use every tool at our disposal to ensure these absurd federal regulations are never implemented in our province.”