Canada’s Oil and Gas Companies Weakening National Climate Plan While Expanding Production, Says New Report

Federal Government Must Double Climate Targets And Curtail Oil Expansion To Limit to 1.5°

Katowice, Poland—A new report released today at COP 24 shows oil and gas emissions in Canada are rising and that oil and gas companies in Canada are systematically weakening and delaying Canada’s climate plan and further climate ambition while reaping more federal subsidies and continuing to increase oil production.

“Unless the federal and provincial governments have the courage to stand up to the oil and gas lobby, Canadians will not have the climate safe future they deserve,” said Dale Marshall, National Climate Program Manager, Environmental Defence. “It’s simply not fair that emission levels from oil and gas production are allowed to rise so significantly while other sectors and individual Canadians are doing all the heavy lifting.”

“Canada’s climate plan is smart policy, that creates a national price on carbon and phases out coal but they have so far failed to address the largest and fastest growing source of emissions – the oil and gas industry.” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director, Stand.Earth. “Allowing oil and gas pollution to increase while saying we are committed to addressing climate change is like saying you are on a diet, but will eat more cake every day. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. “

According to the report, the current growth trajectory for oil and gas production in Canada is inconsistent with the country meeting even its existing target. To meet the targets laid out in the IPCC report, oil production will have to be curtailed. However, both federal and provincial governments allow oil companies to undermine efforts to meet even the current climate plan. Last week, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna committed to increase Canada’s climate ambition by 2020— the report outlines that even meeting current targets requires significant cuts in oil and gas emissions.

“The world has noticed the contradiction between Canada’s desire to be a global climate champion and its ongoing investments in fossil fuels,” said Catherine Abreu, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada, who is attending 2018 UN climate talks in Poland. “The longer Canadian governments delay a conversation about economic diversification away from oil and gas development, the longer Canadian workers and communities, and people around the globe, will bear the burden of their inaction.”

“Canada’s continuing development and investment in the oil sands is incompatible with our climate change commitments. As nations globally ramp up their ambition in decarbonizing their economies to avoid dangerous changes in the climate, Canada risks getting left behind,” said Dr James D. Ford, professor and chair in Climate Adaptation Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds.

The report, entitled Canada’s Oil and Gas Challenge: A Summary Analysis of Rising Oil and Gas Industry Emissions in Canada and Progress Towards Meeting Climate Targets, was released at COP24 by Environmental Defence and Some of the findings include:

  • Documents obtained under freedom of information requests in Saskatchewan show that oil companies advocated for delayed, weakened, and in some cases voluntary methane regulations, all of which will lead to higher emissions.
  • The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) proposed a long list of amendments to Bill C-69 that would undermine the effectiveness of future impact assessments. Since April of this year, CAPP has meet with federal officials 139 times on Bill C-69, on average once per work day.
  • The oil and gas industry successfully lobbied to have high carbon crude oil treated the same as other crude in the Clean Fuel Standard, undermining the effectiveness of the regulation, and is still pushing to have the upstream oil and gas sector entirely exempted.
  • The final regulations were weaker, and delayed two to three years, which will lead to 55 million tonnes more GHGs in the atmosphere between now and 2023.
  • The oil and gas industry, after intense lobbying this year, will have on average 80 per cent of its emissions exempt from the carbon price.
  • Despite promising to eliminate subsidies to the oil and gas industry, the Federal government introduced a new one for liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, including $275 million for infrastructure construction in B.C. The federal government also bought the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline for $4.5 billion, with billions more committed to complete the expansion.
  • Under Canada’s current plan oil sands emissions are projected to grow between now and 2030 to become 40% of Canada’s emissions
  • The IPCC report says that if we are to have a chance of not exceeding 1.5 degrees of warming we need to decrease emissions from oil and gas 37% by 2040.
  • In order for Canada to take on the same emission reductions as the global average under the safest IPCC 1.5 degree scenario Canada’s emissions reductions would have to double.

The report lays out several courses of action the Federal government must take if it is to reach the level of climate ambition it promised at the COP, including:

  • Implementing a climate test by December 2019 that approves only the energy projects that get Canada closer to its commitments under the Paris Agreement. This test must be applied to any not yet built fossil fuel projects and infrastructure, including Trans Mountain, Teck Frontier Mine and LNG Canada.
  • Phasing out subsidies to the oil and gas sector on an accelerated timeline.
  • Developing a strategy for workers and communities dependent on fossil fuel production, especially oil and gas.

Read the full report: