Organizations representing business, environmental and labour are lauding the federal government for its efforts to curb methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, but they say they need to be more stringent.
“Peer-reviewed research shows Canada’s methane emissions are as much as 250 per cent higher than reported by industry and government,” said Ian Bruce, director of science and policy at the David Suzuki Foundation. “The responsible course is to move urgently and enact strong regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.”
In a letter to the federal government’s proposed methane emissions regulations, the group says reducing these potent greenhouse house gas emissions is a critical element of the Pan-Canadian climate framework. Allowing methane to leak is a wasted opportunity, the organizations note, saying in 2015 nearly $370 million worth of natural gas escaped from Canadian oil and gas fields or enough to supply every household in Edmonton and Calgary for a year.
Reducing oil and gas methane requires little in the way of new capital or fundamental changes in business practices, argues the group, noting that low-cost solutions are available today. Fixing methane leaks is often as easy as tightening valves and repairing equipment.
"Implementing effective methane regulations is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce greenhouse gas pollution while creating good jobs," said Jamie Kirkpatrick, program manager at Blue Green Canada. "Innovative Canadian methane management companies are poised for expansion and job growth based on efforts to comply with new methane rules."
The US has more stringent methane emissions regulations with existing and proposed state-level policies covering 25% more production than would be covered by Canada’s proposed national methane rules. Some states, such as Colorado and California, have gone further than others have and are a model for effective methane regulations.
Drew Nelson, director of international affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund noted that Canada can do better and by adopting stronger methane emissions regulations it can catch up to other countries.
Even international investors recognize the benefits of more stringent methane emission reduction regulations.
“Reductions in methane emissions in the oil and gas sector can be not only cost effective, but also achievable with existing technologies and techniques. Implementation of reasonable methane controls will provide investors with confidence that companies are taking necessary action to protect the long-term value of their business and promoting a sustainable global economy,” according to a group of investors, including Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risks and Sustainability (INCR), and Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), with C$89.75 billion under investment.