Canada will impose a hard cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
Calling the promise “a major commitment” that should inspire other resource-rich countries to dramatically curb their own emissions, Trudeau said Canada is prepared to limit the growth of one of the country’s largest industries to help the world hold the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We’ll cap oil and gas sector emissions today and ensure they decrease tomorrow at a pace and scale needed to reach net-zero by 2050,” Trudeau said during his two-minute speech in front of other world leaders gathered in Scotland.
“That’s no small task for a major oil and gas producing country. It’s a big step that’s absolutely necessary.”
In 2019, Canada’s oil and gas sector accounted for 191 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions — 26 per cent of the country’s total emissions. The country’s second largest source of emissions is the transport sector, which emitted 186 megatonnes.
Since 1990, emissions from the oil and gas sector have nearly doubled — an increase largely attributed to a dramatic expansion of the oilsands industry.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the lobby group that represents oil and gas interests, has argued that Canada accounts for less than 1.5 per cent of the world’s GHG emissions and global climate change efforts should be directed at coal, which still accounts for half of all emissions.
In a letter to the government’s net-zero advisory board, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson say they need the board’s help to craft the new sector emission cap.
“Specifically, we seek your advice on key guiding principles to inform the development of quantitative five-year targets,” the ministers wrote in a letter sent Monday.
“It is essential that as we move to a net-zero emissions economy, Canadian workers and communities continue to prosper. Our goal is a future in which the energy workers and communities that helped build this country have even greater opportunities than they do today, through a responsible transition to the low-carbon economy.”
‘We must do more, faster’
Speaking at the COP26 plenary, Trudeau also floated the idea of establishing a minimum global price on emissions to level the playing field for countries like Canada that have levied taxes on emissions-intensive fuel sources to shift consumers to cleaner energy.
He said Canada pushed through a carbon price “despite stiff political opposition” and a year-long battle in the courts because “the science is clear — we must do more, faster.”
That tax is expected to increase dramatically to $170 a tonne by the end of the decade, which will make it one of the world’s highest carbon prices. It’s part of the federal plan to meet and surpass Canada’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
“This is a meaningful price on pollution designed to not just make life cleaner, but also make life more affordable for Canadians,” Trudeau said, citing the government’s program of rebating most of the money collected through the carbon levy at tax time.
The tax hike will, however, result in higher costs for consumers when they buy gasoline. The price at the pump will increase by 37.57 cents a litre by 2030 as a result of the $170 a tonne tax, and the cost of light fuel oil for home heating, natural gas and propane will rise as well.
“I call on other countries to do the same. Just as globally we’ve agreed to a minimum corporate tax, we must work together to ensure it’s no longer free to pollute anywhere around the world. That means establishing a shared minimum standard for pricing pollution,” Trudeau said.
To help with the global green transition, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) created something called the “Adaptation Fund” more than 10 years ago.
The fund pays for adaptation projects in developing countries that are vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. The fund has helped farmers in Argentina with low-cost insurance plans, funded “coastal management” initiatives in Cuba and trained 6,000 Fijians in “climate risk reduction actions and strategies.” Trudeau announced Canada’s first contribution to the fund today.
Trudeau also committed $1 billion for the Accelerating Coal Transition (ACT) Investment Program, which helps poorer countries with the “coal-to-clean” transition, ensuring more countries shift from coal-fired power plants to solar and wind generation.