Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson speaks during a news conference announcing the ban of specific plastic products Wednesday October 7, 2020 in Gatineau. The federal government says it is finalizing deals with three provinces on reducing emissions of a potent greenhouse gas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Ottawa finalizes methane reduction deals with Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C.

Ottawa finalizes methane reduction deals with Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C.

OTTAWA — The federal government has finalizeddeals with three provinces to reduce emissions of a potent greenhouse gas, saying methane proposals from Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia will achieve the same cuts as rules suggested by Ottawa.

But environmental groups point to Environment Canada’s own data showing neither provincial nor federal regulations will meet Canada’s targets.

“The federal and provincial regulations are equivalent, but they’re both way too weak,” Dale Marshall of Environmental Defence said Thursday.

As part of its climate strategy, the federal government said in 2016 that it would reduce methane emissions by 45 per cent by 2025. Methane, much of which is emitted by oil and gas facilities, is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in climate change.

Ottawa drew up regulations to reduce those emissions, but said it would accept provincial plans if they met the same target. On Thursday, federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson gave the OK to the three provincial proposals.

“These efforts lay the groundwork for the next steps we need to take as a country to exceed our 2030 climate target,” he said in a release.

His Alberta counterpart, Jason Nixon, said the agreements achieve national goals while preserving provincial control.

“It will cut the same amount of emissions as the federal system, with the added benefit of cost savings for our industry and maintaining jurisdiction over policies that will impact our ability to develop our natural resources,” he said at an industry forum on methane reduction.

But Marshall and Jan Gorski from the Pembina Institute said Environment Canada’s own research suggests neither framework will meet the 45 per cent target.

A 2018 federally commissioned study found models used to assess methane emissions weren’t looking at the right sources.

“(Methane) is coming from different places,” said Gorski. “That affects the impact of regulations.”

The real reduction, he said, is likely to be about 29 per cent — a figure Wilkinson hasn’t disputed.

Nixon did not take questions and Wilkinson was not available for comment.

Environment Canada staff have said regulations could be tightened if the target isn’t being reached. The deal announced Thursday has a five-year term.

Willkinson also recently announced a $750-million loan program to help companies reduce methane emissions. The Alberta government has provided $750 million from the province’s industrial carbon levy to help companies meet reduction targets.

Marshall said underperforming on methane is a lost opportunity.

“These emissions are some of the cheapest emissions Canada has,” he said.

Not only is the technology to detect and seal off methane widely available, the gas can be sold. Marshall said methane emissions can be cut for about $10 a tonne — a third of their cost in carbon taxes.

Missing the chance to cut as much methane as possible means more greenhouse gases will have to be cut elsewhere in the economy if Canada is to meet its Paris agreement targets, Marshall said.

“There’s so many reasons to do this right. For the federal government to be failing to achieve the commitment that they made four years ago is really disappointing.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2020.

— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow @row1960 on Twitter.

The Canadian Press

methane regulations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer hits 304 active COVID-19 cases

Six new deaths were reported in Alberta

Clearview Public Schools had slight enrolment increase in September. (Image from Facebook)
Positive COVID-19 test reported at Stettler high school

An individual who was at Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus has… Continue reading

(Advocate file photo).
Woman ‘beyond frustrated’ by Red Deer College program’s volunteer requirements

Teddie Briggs says she was “beyond frustrated” after learning Red Deer College’s… Continue reading

Hugh Danielson and Brayden Watts, of Red Deer are trying to spread the word about a new innovation for wheelchairs that they think will be especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Brayden Watts)
Red Deer company lands exclusive patent rights to wheelchair extension

By some small miracle, Hugh Danielson and Brayden Watts stumbled upon a… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Employee at Bethany CollegeSide in Red Deer tests positive for COVID-19

An employee at a Red Deer continuing care facility has tested positive… Continue reading

Teresa Kutynec, Red Deer Christmas Bureau president, dressed up as Mrs. Claus during the Charity Checkstop on Saturday. The event supports four nonprofit organizations: the Christmas Bureau, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Red Deer Food Bank and Women’s Outreach Centre. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Charity Checkstop raises money for nonprofit organizations

Red Deerians supported four local nonprofit organizations without even having to leave… Continue reading

The commemorative plaque is seen on the outside wall at the Polytechnique in Montreal, on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. Sunday will mark the 31st anniversary of the murder of 14 women in an antifeminist attack at Ecole Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Scaled-back, virtual ceremonies to mark 31st anniversary of Polytechnique killings

MONTREAL, France — The anniversary of the attack that cut short the… Continue reading

A man wears a face mask as he skateboards along a street in Montreal, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
COVID-19 cases hit new records as Tam urges perseverance, promises vaccine on the way

Canada’s top doctor urged cautious optimism — and a healthy dose of… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Manitoba judge rules church can’t hold drive-in services forbidden by health order

WINNIPEG — A Manitoba judge has rejected a church’s request to hold… Continue reading

Homeowners Cora and Alec Dion pose in the basement of their home in Fort McMurray, Alta., on May 8, 2020. More than seven months ago, the Dions were forced to flee Fort McMurray for the second time in four years as a spring flood threatened their home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Halinda
Fort McMurray residents still cleaning, considering options after spring flooding

‘It’s worse than just having water, because it’s ice mixed in with the water’

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. Anand says as soon as she knows when the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will arrive on Canadian soil, she will share that information with the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Negotiating contracts for vaccines in development needed flexibility: Anand

Health Canada officials are days, maybe even hours, away from approving the COVID-19 vaccine

Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota rises in the House of Commons, Wednesday, May 13, 2020 in Ottawa. nbsp; THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Speaker Rota reflects on first year presiding over unprecedented virtual Parliament

‘It’s not what I signed up for but it is what it is’

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $17 million Lotto Max draw

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $17 million jackpot… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Hay’s Daze: Not used to seeing giraffe with a mask

My bad. Now there’s an expression that used to stick in my… Continue reading

Most Read