The Trudeau government will use a combination of investments and tax measures to establish an “enforceable”, “workable” cap on greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas operations, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in an interview with a CBC Radio podcast.
Wilkinson said he and Environment and Climate Minister Steven Guilbeault are still in discussions to determine the level at which the cap will be set, CBC says. The government has also sought technical advice on the emissions cap from the independent Net-Zero Advisory Body, and NZAB co-chair Dan Wicklum has already promised a swift response to the request.
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CBC notes that Alberta already has a 100-megatonne emissions cap for tar sands/oil sands operations, a limit the industry has never breached. But discussion around the federal cap has emphasized that it will apply to all oil and gas facilities, not just the ones that mine bitumen.
“The provincial cap that exists right now is not as broad as the federal process would be,” and “as I understand it, the provincial cap has never been put into regulation,” Wilkinson told Jim Brown, host of CBC’s West of Centre podcast. “We need to ensure that there’s something that’s actually enforceable over the long term,” and “it needs to be something that industry thinks is workable.”
He said Alberta fossils will either have to improve their emissions intensity or curtail production over the short term, adding that meeting the gap through intensity reductions alone will get tougher over time.
“In the short term, I would suggest that a lot of the improvement in terms of reducing emissions is going to come through emissions intensity, through things like carbon capture and sequestration,” he said. But “ultimately, we are going to have to drive demand down for oil through the deployment of zero-emission vehicles because, as you know, oil is primarily used as a transportation fuel.”
Elaborating on Canada’s COP 26 commitment to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies, Wilkinson “said that includes subsidies promoting further exploration and production of fossil fuels but not investments to reduce emissions in the sector,” CBC writes.
“At the end of the day, we are in a climate crisis,” he told the national broadcaster. “It is incumbent on us to be looking at all of the levers that we can pull at the governmental level, alongside industry, to reduce those emissions in a rapid way.”
CBC has more on the intergovernmental politics around the oil and gas cap.