Guilbeault confirms a proposal to cut oil and gas production will come 'this year'

Despite missing prior deadlines to table a proposal, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said: 'It’s [been] a very live conversation.' He assured Canadians he wants to curb emissions without devastating industry.

Guilbeault confirms a proposal to cut oil and gas production will come 'this year'
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Canada’s environmental czar told reporters Thursday that a cap on oil and gas production will be introduced by the end of the year.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said the federal government has had "hundreds" of meetings with stakeholders on the issue since their pledge to draft a proposal for early 2023.

In August, Guilbeault told Bloomberg to expect a proposal for October at the earliest and "definitely" before the Dubai climate conference commencing on November 30. "It’s no secret, generally speaking, that industry isn’t particularly fond of the government coming up with new regulations," he said then when asked about the progress of those talks. 

Last year, Environment Canada published a proposed emissions-reduction plan that tabled a 42% reduction in oil and gas sector emissions by 2030 — a target industry groups have argued is too restrictive. 

At the time of the initial interview, energy companies like Suncor Energy Inc. announced reduced emphasis on long-term 'green energy' projects.

"But I think by and large, the industry understands that we need to tackle emissions," clarified the minister. "[...] the world is decarbonizing whether they like it or not, and they can either be part of the solution, or the solution will be imposed upon them."

First promised in the Liberal Party’s 2021 election platform, an emissions cap would help Canada meet its climate targets without kneecapping entire industries. They contend that regulating energy-sector emissions would incite vigorous opposition from conservative, resource-based provinces like Alberta, which produce the vast majority of Canadian oil.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has vehemently denounced "an emissions cap that will effectively force energy companies to cap their oil and gas production."

"We would strongly suggest the federal government refrain from testing our governments or Albertans’ resolve in this regard," she said in August.

Despite missing prior deadlines to table a proposal, Guilbeault said November 9: "It’s [been] a very live conversation." He assured Canadians that policymakers want to curb emissions without devastating industry.

"[The feds are trying for an] emissions cap that pushes for as many reductions as we can see in the sector as possible, without shutting in production that’s not linked to global declines in demand," added Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. 

"By the end of the year, you will have a pretty good idea of how we will go about that," clarified Guilbeault, whose goal is to reduce emissions by at least 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. 

"We want to make sure that we do this in a thoughtful way," Wilkinson told reporters.

Ottawa continues to bet heavily on carbon capture and storage to meet its climate targets, promising $9.2 billion in tax credits for provinces and industries to utilize the technology through the next decade.

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