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

Lieut. Orphée Bernard takes a twirl on his Movember moustache as Lieut. Jeff Allan, back left, firefighters Andrew Mills and Layne Polnick and Capt. Troy Libbus display an oversized cheque showing the amount of cash raised from the profits of custom-embroidered T-shirt sales. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo firefighters raise moustache cash

Firefighters support Movember Canada through T-shirt sale fundraiser

Patricia Kent, 25, was reported missing over the weekend, as her family has been unable to reach her, say police. (Photo submitted)
RCMP ask for help locating missing Nanaimo woman

Patricia Kent, 25, has not been seen nor heard from since Saturday, say police

An man from Errington died when his ATV went over an embankment on Northwest Bay Logging Road on the weekend. (File photo)
Man dies in ATV crash northwest of Nanaimo

Incident happened on Northwest Bay Logging Road on Saturday afternoon

Volunteers plant trees earlier this month as part of a City of Nanaimo initiative. (City of Nanaimo photo)
City holds ‘relay’ to plant 600 trees and shrubs in Nanaimo

Trees were planted along Chase River and at Third Street Park

Vancouver Island University organizations are raising awareness about gender-based violence during 16 Days of Activism, which includes the Red Dress Project hosted by VIUSU that aims to honour the memory of Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. (Vancouver Island University photo)
City proclamation calls on Nanaimo to unite to end violence against women

16 Days of Activism campaign started Nov. 25, continues to Dec. 10

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Three Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store volunteers have tested positive for COVID-19. (Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary photo)
Three Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store volunteers test positive for COVID-19

Anyone who volunteered at Thrift Store between Nov. 14-Nov. 28 is asked to monitor for symptoms

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Most Read