February 17, 2020

Canada Steps Up its Efforts to Reduce Methane Emissions

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

In 2018, Canada finalized regulations to reduce methane emissions from upstream oil and natural gas facilities, including extraction, primary processing, long-distance transport, and storage. Provisions to track and repair “fugitive” methane leaks and to limit emissions from compressors and fracked gas well completions went into effect in January; facility-wide venting limits and pneumatic equipment standards enter into force three years from now.

Although many of Canada’s provinces had previously regulated methane from oil and gas production facilities, either directly or indirectly through safety and waste prevention measures, this rule marks the first time that the Canadian government has targeted methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

While Canada’s rules do not address all methane releases, they nevertheless add to a growing body of examples of regulation on methane emissions, which the International Energy Agency (IEA) is collating and making available as part of its Methane Tracker. IEA analysis has consistently shown that action to reduce methane emissions is one of the most cost-effective options to reduce global emissions and an essential complement to efforts to bring down emissions of carbon dioxide, write Kate Konschnik, director of the Nicholas Institute's Climate and Energy Program, and Frances Reuland, energy analyst at IEA.