Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Report Urges Canada's Federal Conservatives to Regulate Oil and Gas Sector to Meet GHG Targets

The Pembina Institute is calling for Canada's ruling Conservatives to regulate the oil and gas industry so that the country can meet its greenhouse gases (GHGs) targets. According to a Tuesday April 2, 2013, report from the non-profit environmental group significant GHG reductions from the oil and gas sector are necessary if Canada is to meet its emissions commitments.

As it stands at present Canada is far from being able to meet its 2020 GHG targets which stipulate a 17 percent reduction from a 2005 baseline (equivalent to 113 million tonnes). In 2012, Environment Canada indicated that the country was not on track to meet its GHG targets.

“Canada is nowhere near getting on track to hit its target, so getting this right is a make-or-break moment for Canada’s climate credibility,” Clare Demerse, director of federal policy at the Pembina Institute, told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa Tuesday.

As noted in the report, the oil and gas sector accounts for about 22 percent of national emissions. The Pembina Institute estimates the oil and gas sector will need to cut its emissions by 86 million tonnes, or 42 per cent, to a total of 118 million tonnes in 2020.

The Pembina Institute is a stalwart advocate of economy-wide carbon pricing, through a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system as the best way of reducing GHGs. However this approach was rejected by the federal Conservatives.

The Pembina Institute recommends setting the price for investing in a technology fund as an alternative to reducing emissions or buying offset credits at a minimum of $100 per tonne, with $150 per tonne being more likely to help Canada meet its 2020 targets.

The federal government is taking a sector-by-sector approach to regulating GHG emissions and plans to unveil its new rules for the oil and gas sector by the middle of this year.

"Our starting point is that strong regulations provide clear benefits to Canadians and can help Canada play a responsible part in the global effort to tackle climate change." The Pembina Institute said. "We also believe that strong regulations are in the best interests of the oil and gas industry: ambitious and effective regulations will increase policy certainty for producers, spur innovation, and help provide social license to operate for a sector that faces growing public scrutiny. Improved environmental performance for the oilsands sector in particular would help the sector maintain access to markets that choose to adopt low-carbon fuel policies."

New regulations in the oil and gas sector could prevent Canada from missing its GHG targets, alternatively the Conservatives can cement their legacy as a recklessly anti-environment government and lose all credibility on climate change.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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