Why Methane Matters

Research is bringing into focus the importance of reducing the amount of methane in the atmosphere. Methane (CH4) is a short-lived but very strong greenhouse gas – 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide when it is initially emitted. Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for long time, so it affects how warm the planet gets, while the quantity of the more powerful methane controls how fast that warming happens. Methane is responsible for 25% of current warming.


Methane is the main component of natural gas. Globally, the oil and gas sector is the largest industrial source of methane. In Canada, nearly $550 million worth of methane leaked from oil and gas operations, enough gas to heat every household in Montréal for a year.


Inexpensive, proven technologies exist to reduce methane emissions, but regulations requiring industry to act vary widely. Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan set a target to reduce oil and gas methane emissions by 45% by 2025. The Federal government and British Columbia have followed suit.

Mexico, Canada and the U.S. are three of the world’s largest oil and gas producing nations and represent nearly 20% of global oil and gas methane pollution. In 2016, the three countries jointly agreed to reduce their methane emissions by 45% by 2025. Furthermore, 19 nations in the UN-sponsored Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) recognized methane reductions as “the next big climate opportunity” and agreed to implement policies to minimize emissions of this powerful pollutant from their oil and gas sectors in November 2016. However, in the U.S. the Trump administration is calling U.S. commitment to reducing or federally regulating methane emissions into serious question.

Recent blogs 

Methane regulations for Canada’s oil and gas sector A question of competitiveness

March 3, 2017 - By Duncan Kenyon

Now is the time to implement Canada’s commitment to reduce oil and gas methane emissions — not to give into the baseless idea that Canadian operations will be uncompetitive. 

Canada should act on methane even in uncertain times

March 24, 2017 - By Ed Whittingham, Fred Krupp

Despite last month’s cordial visit between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump, there is still much uncertainty around the Canada-U.S. stance on energy and the environment. 

Scrapping coal is a great deal for Albertans An overview of Alberta's progress on coal

Nov. 24, 2016 - By Benjamin Israel, Binnu Jeyakumar

Coal is one of the dirtiest ways to make power, which is why one year ago the Government of Alberta committed to eliminating its pollution from the electricity grid by 2030.

Alberta and Canada delivering on methane means a cleaner future for all Climate Summit 2016 speaker Mark Brownstein delivers his message on the urgency of reducing methane emissions

Sept. 28, 2016 - By Mark Brownstein

About one-quarter of the warming we are experiencing today is attributable to human emissions of methane, with the oil and gas industry its largest industrial source. Fortunately, there are cost-effective strategies to reduce methane emissions across the oil and gas industry.

The clear path forward to methane reductions

July 19, 2016 - By Duncan Kenyon

How can Canada reach the 45 per cent methane reduction target? Easily, cheaply and quickly — if industry and government move forward soon with the right decisions.


Economic Analysis of Methane Emission Reduction Opportunities in the Canadian Oil and Natural Gas Industries

Oct. 5, 2015 - By ICF International

This report, commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund and released in partnership with the Pembina Institute, looks at the growth of methane emissions from Canada’s oil and gas industry and points to the most cost-effective approaches to reduce methane emissions.



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