CALGARY—The push to combat climate change often centres on reducing carbon dioxide emissions. While the greenhouse gas undoubtedly deserves much of the blame for increasing global temperatures, CO2 does not tell the entire story. Lingering on the fringe of the climate debate is methane, a gas approximately 25-time more virulent than CO2.
Unlike some GHG emission reduction plans that give methane a pass, Alberta’s new climate framework does not leave methane on the sidelines. Instead, the province is setting a firm target and aiming to reduce methane emissions in the province’s oil and gas sector 45 per cent by 2025.
As the rest of the world prepares for the Paris climate talks, clean energy champions are lauding Alberta’s initiative.
“The methane reduction target for the upstream oil and gas industry positions Alberta as a leader among fossil fuel producing jurisdictions worldwide on this critical issue,” Ed Whittingham, executive director of the Pembina Institute, said. “It makes sense to focus on the biggest sources of greenhouse gas pollution in this sector—methane—because it offers the biggest reduction per dollar and the goal is achievable using technology and practices that are commercially available today.”
Earlier this year, the Pembina Institute, which is a Canadian clean energy think tank, and the U.S.-based Environmental Defense Fund released a study showing how Canada’s oil and gas emissions could be reduced 45 per cent below projected 2020 levels cost effectively, using already-available technologies.
“Alberta’s methane reduction goal sets the stage for a major win for Canada and the global environment,” EDF president, Fred Krupp, said. “Leading oil-and-gas nations, including Canada, can have an immediate impact on the degree of warming our planet is facing right now. But regulations of new and existing sources are critical and feasible to achieve this goal.”
The study highlighted achieving the same 45 per cent reduction across Canada would eliminate 27 million tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of taking every passenger car in B.C. and Alberta off the road.