Canada plans major cuts to methane emissions by 2025

By Patrick C. Miller | June 13, 2017

Canada’s government plans to implement regulations to reduce oil and gas sector methane emissions 40 to 45 percent by 2025.

Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of environment and climate change, said the reduction of methane and other air pollution would help the nation catch up with states in the U.S.—California, Colorado and North Dakota—that already have regulations to reduce emissions. The proposed regulations are part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

McKenna said that through innovation and technology, the effort to reduce emissions will improve the health of Canadians while supporting jobs in the oil and gas sector.

"These regulations will help producers save over $1.5 billion worth of natural gas between 2018 and 2035,” she said. “By better detecting and patching leaks, companies will be able to save and sell that natural gas and do their part to fight climate change.” 

A news release from the minister’s office said Canada's oil and gas sector is the country's largest emitter of climate-warming methane gas and volatile organic compounds, some of which are toxic to human health and contribute to smog.

Jane Philpott, Canada’s minister of health, said, "Reducing exposure to volatile organic compounds, a major contributor to air pollution, is important for protecting the health and safety of Canadians. This initiative supports efforts to reduce the number of premature deaths linked to air pollution—estimated at 14 500 each year, in Canada." ‎

The proposed approach gives provinces and territories the flexibility to develop regulations to replace the federal regulations if they can achieve similar outcomes. The emissions reductions are expected to equal removing about five million passenger vehicles from the road each year.

In its 2017 budget, Canada’s government has committed $200 million to support clean-technology research, development, and demonstration and adoption of clean technology in the nation’s natural resources sectors. The 2016 budget provided nearly $5 million in funding to help companies facilitate cost-effective methane mitigation.

"Our government sees the long-term value in developing Canadian oil and gas resources in cleaner, more sustainable ways,” said Jim Carr, minister of natural resources. “This will attract investment and allow the industry to be more competitive as the world makes the transition to a low-carbon future."

The proposed regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on May 27. Provinces, industry stakeholders and interested Canadians can provide comments to Environment and Climate Change Canada until July 27.