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Canada Proposes World-Leading Standards to Reduce Methane Emissions

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(OTTAWA, Ontario – Dec. 4, 2023) Canada today proposed new standards to reduce methane pollution from the oil and gas industry. The proposal is designed to ensure Canada meets its commitment to reduce methane emissions from the sector by more than 75% by 2030.  

Building on regulations adopted in 2018, the protections will require oil and gas companies to improve their work practice standards, make their operations more efficient, and substantially reduce pollution from facilities across Canada. The proposal requires more frequent leak inspections, places strong limits on venting and flaring of natural gas and phases out high-polluting pneumatic devices.  

Canada also announced $30 million in funding for a Centre of Excellence, which will improve the understanding and reporting of methane emissions, with a focus on collaborative initiatives to support data and measurement. 

Statement from Ari Pottens, Senior Campaign Manager, Canada at Environmental Defense Fund 

“Canada is setting a high bar for global methane regulation. These proven and highly cost-effective strategies will significantly reduce climate pollution and improve the air quality of the communities directly impacted by the oil and gas industry. While some provisions need strengthening and some exceptions need narrowing, we are encouraged by today’s proposal. 

“Canada’s commitment to funding methane monitoring through the Centre for Excellence is a much-needed effort to improve the measurement and minimization of methane pollution. The Centre will be an indispensable tool that companies and governments can use to tackle emissions. 

“One area of the draft that needs careful scrutiny is a provision that would allow companies to avoid compliance with the rule by installing promising, but as-yet unproven, technologies for continuous methane monitoring. Given the lack of measurement-based reporting requirements in Canada, a broad opt-out provision threatens to undermine real progress on methane.” 

Statement from Dr. Joe Vipond, emergency doctor and former president of Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment 

“As a physician who cares about air pollution, and a father who cares about the future climate, I’m excited to hear about further ratcheting down of methane emissions. This will be a key element in avoiding surpassing our 1.5 C global temperature limit, along with the radical decarbonisation of our economy that is also required.” 

Background 

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that drives over a quarter of current global warming. Methane is also the main component of natural gas, making it an important energy resource. 

Canada is the fourth largest oil producing country in the world and the sixth largest natural gas producer. ECCC estimates the industry is responsible for 40% of the country’s methane emissions, but multiple peer reviewed studies indicate that actual, measured, methane pollution is much higher than what is reported in official inventories. 

Today’s proposal comes days after 50 global energy companies committed to reducing methane at the COP28 climate summit – signaling that there is broad, global support for commonsense methane regulations. 

Canada has been a global leader on methane, signing the Global Methane Pledge which commits to reduce global methane emissions across all sectors by 30% by 2030, and the Joint Declaration from Energy Importers and Exporters on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fossil Fuels.  

The European Union recently adopted strong methane standards for domestic and imported fossil fuels and the US EPA just announced the adoption of strengthened rules covering new and existing oil and gas facilities. 

An analysis released earlier this year confirmed that at a cost of $11/tonne reducing methane emissions from Canada’s oil and gas facilities is one of the most affordable actions that Canada can take to reduce the impacts of climate change. Coming off yet another year of rampant wildfires and record-breaking heat across Canada, the actions announced today could make a major impact on reducing a potent greenhouse gas that’s fueling the climate crisis.  

 

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