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

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 said it would accept provincial plans if they met the same target

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.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

federal government

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

Just Posted

The total rainfall amount from the two sets of frontal waves is forecast to be near 100 mm (file photo)
Rainfall warning issued for Bella Coola

The total rainfall amount is forecast to be near 100 mm and could result in localized flooding

The Bella Coola RCMP are investigating the cause of the fire (Caitlin Thompson photo)
RCMP investigating Bay Motor Hotel fire

Anyone with information is asked to call Bella Coola RCMP 250 799 5363 or Crimestoppers

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before Phillip Tallio’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

A third-party crew cut the Telus fiber line on Tuesday, Nov. 17, resulting in a nearly 24hr communications blackout for the Valley (Black Press Media)
Recent outage highlights vulnerabilites in local communication infrastructure

A third-party crew accidentally severed the cable on Highway 20, resulting in a valley-wide communications outage

The Bay Hotel burned to the ground last night (Christina Hoppe photo)
Bay Hotel burns to the ground in early morning fire

The building was abandoned and had been falling apart for years

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

Most Read