Canada’s need to impress the UN on climate policy knows no bounds as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau patted himself on the back Wednesday on methane reduction efforts without actually reducing methane emissions.
On September 20, Trudeau addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he received applause for announcing a plan to reduce Canada’s methane emissions ahead of schedule.
"Canada has committed to reduce by 2030 methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by at least 75 per cent below 2012 levels," he told UN delegates.
In 2021, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) said Canada would meet its interim 2025 target of a 40 to 45% reduction.
Parliament passed the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act then with the lofty expectation of reaching 'net-zero' emissions by 2050.
They also passed an interim plan, the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), specifically targeting oil and gas emissions. It would require "emission reductions to 31% below 2005 levels in 2030 [or to 42% below 2019 levels]," which would build a pathway to 'net-zero' by 2050.
Draft regulations designed to “help us exceed” the ambitious 2030 target will be announced by the end of the year, said Trudeau. He did not elaborate further.
The regulations would strengthen Canada’s commitment to the 2016 Paris Agreement, which urged countries to limit warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.
According to the UN, the planet has warmed up by at least 1.1 C.
However, not everyone present took the prime minister at his word.
As United Nations Under-Secretary-General Melissa Fleming introduced Trudeau, she noted that "Canada was one of the largest expanders of fossil fuel last year."
Other voices suggested the reality in Canada ran counterintuitive to the values of the UN Climate Ambition Summit.
Outside the venue, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault told reporters that a Steven Harper Conservative government would never have made these commitments on ‘climate change.’
"I think if we were to ask the question if Canada would have been here ten years ago under a Stephen Harper government, the answer is, obviously, no," he said.
Through upstream oil and gas regulations, the feds hope to "achieve significant methane emissions reductions" by implementing performance standards and increased observation for sites that pose the "highest risk of unintentional releases."
If tabled, Trudeau and his cabinet will have delivered on their promise to compose "a framework to cap emissions" from the oil and gas sector.
The David Suzuki Foundation welcomed Canada’s commitment but said real work lies ahead of the federal government.
"We have a bigger problem in Canada, which is that we're very poor at actually measuring and knowing how much methane we have today and how much we had in the past," said the foundation's senior climate policy adviser Tom Green.
"We've got to improve on what's called measurement, reporting and verification," he claimed.