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

FILE – Oshawa Generals forward Anthony Cirelli, left, shoots and scores his team’s first goal against Kelowna Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle during second period action at the Memorial Cup final in Quebec City on Sunday, May 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
B.C. government approves plan in principle to allow WHL to resume in the province

League includes Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants, Victoria Royals

Aerial view of the Capital Regional District residuals treatment facility at Hartland Landfill where residual solids are turned into Class A biosolids. (Photo courtesy CRD)
Plant closure sends more biosolids to Hartland Landfill

Saanich residents are concerned they were never consulted

Saanich Coun. Susan Brice and Mayor Fred Haynes are calling on the province to develop new solutions for emergency response to mental health crises with the consideration of a potential new 911 category. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Saanich mayor, councillor call for new solutions to mental health emergencies

Shifting response from police to trained mental health team the best option, mayor says

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic, operated by Island Health, has opened at the University of Victoria’s McKinnon Gym. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens at University of Victoria

Clinic is staffed and operated by Island Health

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

The south coast of B.C. as capture by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. (European Space Agency)
VIDEO: Images of B.C.’s south coast from space released by European Space Agency

The satellite images focus on a variety of the region’s landmarks

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Nelson society raises $400K to save regional park from logging project

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

A public health order has extended the types of health care professionals who can give the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
‘It’s great that midwives are included’ in rollout of B.C.’s COVID vaccine plan, says college

The order will help the province staff the mass vaccination clinics planned for April

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian economy contracted 5.4 per cent in 2020, worst year on record

Drop was largely due to shutdowns in the spring as COVID began to spread

The Nanaimo Clippers in action at Frank Crane Arena in early 2020. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Clippers for sale, owner says hockey won’t be back to normal any time soon

Wes Mussio says he’s had numerous inquiries about the junior A club already

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

Most Read