Alberta’s regulations fail to effectively address major sources of emissionsFederal government would put Canada’s climate ambition at risk if Alberta’s weak methane regulations are approved

Dec. 13, 2019

Photo: Roberta Franchuk, the Pembina Institute

Joint media release: Pembina Institute, David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Clean Air Task Force, Environmental Defence Canada

Alberta needs to improve its oil and gas methane regulations significantly before they go to the federal government for approval. The current regulations will fail to meet Canada’s methane reduction targets of 40 to 45 per cent by 2025. 

“By proposing weak methane regulations, Alberta is continuing its unfortunate trend in lowering climate ambition. 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,” says Jan Gorski, an analyst with the Pembina Institute.

The federal rules are much stronger and address all the major sources of methane emissions. 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. These sources are big contributors and their emissions are consistently underestimated.

“Canada should be focussed on closing the Paris gap rather than making it wider. 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,” says David Suzuki Foundation science and policy manager Patricia Lightburn

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. 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.

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


Our organizations have been collaborating on methane since before the joint Canada, U.S., and Mexico pledge to reduce oil and gas methane emissions in 2016. We believe that by working together, North America can forge important progress on addressing the global problem of climate change. The global nature of the climate challenge calls for an all-hands-on-deck approach to finding solutions and we are proud of the great work that we are able to deliver by working together.

The Pembina Institute is a non-profit think-tank that advocates for strong, effective policies to support Canada’s clean energy transition. We have offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto.

The David Suzuki Foundation is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization that collaborates with people in Canada, including government and businesses, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. It operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

Environmental Defense Fund, an international non-profit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. It links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships.

The Clean Air Task Force is a non-profit environmental organization with offices across the U.S. and in China. It works to help safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid global development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies through research and analysis, public advocacy leadership and partnership with the private sector.

Environmental Defence Canada is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.


Michelle Bartleman
Communications Lead, Pembina Institute

Theresa Beer
David Suzuki Foundation

Jonathan Banks
Clean Air Task Force

Barbara Hayes
Environmental Defence

Faye Roberts
For Environmental Defense Fund


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