Without federal action, Canada will miss easiest, cheapest opportunity to reduce climate emissions New analysis shows oil and gas methane regulations will create a gap of up to seven million tonnes

Sept. 3, 2020

Photo: Roberta Franchuk, the Pembina Institute

(OTTAWA) Unless the federal government revises its methane regulations to take into account new analysis, Canada will miss by a wide mark an international commitment made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reduce oil and gas methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025.

Emissions modelling results released by the federal government show that federal regulations will reduce methane emissions by only 29 per cent in 2025 - leaving a gap of 5 to 7 million tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) between Canada's international commitment and the anticipated level of emissions in 2025. This projected shortfall in emissions reduction is likely an underestimation, because the new figures don't account for the potency of methane in the decades after it is emitted. The federal government is proceeding with equivalency agreements with the provinces without a clear, concrete plan to close this gap.

The federal government's updated analysis is based on new data which shows that the distribution of emissions between sources has changed. While it is not unexpected that estimates of the impact of regulations will change as methane data improves, currently Canada lacks a plan to strengthen the regulations to meet the targets.

Reducing methane emissions is a key element of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Government documents show that Canada already has a significant gap (77 million tonnes of GHGs ) to achieve its Paris Agreement commitment.

Canada’s climate policy commits to strengthening 2030 emission targets and working towards net-zero emissions by 2050. While correcting course to meet the 2025 target, there is also an opportunity to plan for a more ambitious 2030 target. But Canada cannot achieve any of these goals without stronger methane emission regulations that take into account this new evidence.


“The gap to achieving Canada’s 2025 methane reduction target is widening at a time when the federal government should be looking to increase ambition on methane to meet its Paris climate commitment,” said Jan Gorski of the Pembina Institute. “Canada should act decisively to maintain its position as a global leader both in terms of innovative policy and the application of technology to control methane emissions.”

“Not closing this methane gap means giving up on the cheapest, most effective GHG reductions in the oil and gas sector," said Dale Marshall, Environmental Defence Canada. "If Canada is going to do its fair share on climate change, it's going to cost a lot more to get reductions elsewhere. The Prime Minister needs to direct Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to implement regulations to close the 2025 methane gap, and then work to go further post-2025.”

"Even apart from climate objectives, strong methane regulations are needed to protect community health. And they create good jobs for a green recovery from the pandemic," said Tom Green, David Suzuki Foundation.


Download a media briefing on Canadian methane regulations.


Michelle Bartleman (English / français)
Alberta Communications Lead, Pembina Institute

Barbara Hayes
Environmental Defence Canada


Media primer: Media briefing on Canadian methane regulations

Factsheets: Comparing Provincial and Federal Oil and Gas Methane Emissions Regulations —  Factsheets for Policy Makers


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

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

Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us onEDF Voices,Twitter andFacebook.

Clean Air Task Force (www.catf.us) is an international nonprofit environmental organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid global development and deployment of emerging and proven low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies through research and analysis, legal advocacy, promoting thought leadership and partnership with the private sector.

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


Our perspectives to your inbox.

The Pembina Institute endeavors to maintain your privacy and protect the confidentiality of any personal information that you may give us. We do not sell, share, rent or otherwise disseminate personal information. Read our full privacy policy.