AB methane regulations do not address major emissions sources

Federal government would put Canada’s climate ambition at risk if Alberta’s weak methane regulations are approved

Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation say Alberta needs to improve its oil and gas methane regulations significantly before they go to the federal government for approval. Pembina Institute photo by Roberta Franchuk.

Alberta’s current methane reduction targets will fail to meet federal targets, according to the David Suzuki Foundation and Pembina Institute.

The two groups argue the province needs to improve its oil and gas methane regulations significantly before they go to the federal government for approval.

“By proposing weak methane regulations, Alberta is continuing its unfortunate trend in lowering climate ambition,” said Jan Gorski, analyst with the Pembina Institute. Gorski added that addressing methane is a cost-effective opportunity for oil and gas companies to lower their emissions.

“Further inaction is putting the province at economic risk, as investors are increasingly looking for action on climate from the oil and gas sector.”

In a joint press release, the two groups say the federal government’s rules are much stronger and address all the major sources of methane emissions. Meanwhile, Alberta’s rules focus on low-emitting equipment such as pneumatic devices, but do not address large sources like leaks and venting from tanks and oil wells.

Pembina and the Suzuki Foundation say these two sources are big contributors and their emissions are consistently underestimated.

“Canada should be focussed on closing the Paris gap rather than making it wider,” says David Suzuki Foundation science and policy manager Patricia Lightburn. “Backsliding on our international methane commitment is not an option. We have the tools we need to meet and exceed Canada’s 2030 climate targets and we can’t leave cost-effective emission reductions on the table.”

Oil and gas methane emissions are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta and Canada. An extremely potent greenhouse gas, methane is more than eighty times stronger at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

The groups say that preventing these emissions is one of the most effective and affordable ways to achieve climate benefits and reduce the waste of a valuable product – natural gas.

“Canada has a strong opportunity to be a global leader on methane by setting a high standard for other jurisdictions to follow, especially on the run-up to COP26,” says Environmental Defense Fund’s international energy program policy manager Shareen Yawanarajah.

Jonathan Banks, Clean Air Task Force’s senior climate policy advisor says the federal standards are the bare minimum that Canada can do to start dealing with climate pollution.  “Canada can’t turn its back on the cheapest and easiest of climate mitigation measures.”

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