Oil and gas industry could have more time to meet 2030 emissions targets, minister says


Canada’s environment minister has said the federal government could give oil and gas companies more time to fully meet 2030 emissions reduction targets.

“[We] recognize that some of the actions that will be required to achieve these significant emission reductions may take longer than what we have available by 2030,” Steven Guilbeault said in an interview with CBC Radio. The House.

“I’m not saying today it will necessarily be 2032, but the companies have said it could be 10 years, which would take us to 2032.”

The federal government’s climate plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 has an interim target of reducing emissions in all sectors to 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030.

This would require a 42% reduction in oil and gas emissions, a pace that has raised concerns in this sector.

“It is possible that if the industry needs a little more time, we can provide some flexibility while ensuring that Canada still meets its 2030 targets, that we can allow a little more time to industry if they need that time to deploy the necessary infrastructure they need to reduce emissions,” Guilbeault said.

The minister did not say how Canada could still meet its target on time if the industry – which accounted for 26% of national emissions in 2019 – fell behind.

Industry group says it takes more than time

Pathways Alliance, a group that includes six companies representing 95% of oil sands production in Canada, says it is working to reduce its CO2 emissions by 22 megatonnes by 2030. Ottawa’s plan wants total emissions of the sector (about 191 megatons in 2019) be reduced to 110 megatons by the end of the decade.

“By 2032, you could get another two or three megatons,” Mark Cameron, Vice President of External Relations for the Pathways Alliance, told CBC News.

“We’re just glad the government recognizes that it’s not going to be something we can achieve… Going beyond that will take more time or new technology or additional funding or some combination of the three.”

This week, the federal government also released a discussion paper proposing two options for fulfilling its platform promise to cap emissions from oil and gas production.

He proposes a cap and trade system or a modified carbon pricing system to set that cap – carefully drawing the line between a cap on emissions and a cap on output. Some industry and political critics have pointed out that limiting one could indirectly lead to the other.

Guilbeault said the working document also highlights the potential need for flexibility on methods and timelines.

“I agree that there are different points of view. Not everyone agrees with this. But at the same time, I think Canadians see the need to reduce carbon pollution. They see the impacts of climate change,” the minister said.

Cameron added that the 22 megaton target by 2030 could potentially be increased if new technology becomes available or much more funding is injected. Either way, achieving the reductions outlined in the federal government’s 2030 plan is not achievable under current circumstances, he said.

“We would obviously need more time to get to that level. Whether or not we can get there by 2032, or whether it might take longer than that, is another question.”