Canada, U.S. agree to cut oil and gas sector's methane emissions
Published Thursday, March 10, 2016 7:48AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, March 10, 2016 12:44PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama say they are working together to develop new ways to curb methane gas emissions from the oil and gas sector -- the world’s largest industrial methane source.
The two leaders released a joint statement Thursday saying they have committed to reducing methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025 from the oil and gas sector. They said they will also explore new opportunities for additional methane reductions.
The statement said Environment and Climate Change Canada (previously knowns as Environment Canada) will regulate methane emissions from new and existing oil and gas sources, working with the provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples and other stakeholders.
The agency intends to publish an initial phase of proposed regulations by early 2017.
Trudeau and Obama jointly hailed the announcement as a significant step toward curbing climate change, in remarks made Thursday morning to the media in Washington. Trudeau said the two leaders are committed to curbing the effects of global warming, while working toward a "clean growth economy" that can be prosperous for both nations.
"I'm confident that by working together, we'll get there sooner than we think," Trudeau said.
Obama acknowledged the methane reduction targets as an "aggressive goal," while stressing the importance of taking strong action to fight climate change.
"Together, we're going to move swiftly to establish comprehensive standards to meet that goal," he said.
Next month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will start “a formal process” to require companies operating existing methane emissions sources to provide information “that is vital to establishing effective standards” to decrease methane emissions.
“President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau share a common vision of a prosperous and sustainable North American economy, and the opportunities afforded by advancing clean growth.,” the statement read.
In a conference call after the statement was released, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said the U.S. is committed to establishing "common sense, achievable standards" for reducing methane emissions.
"We want to get this right," she said, adding that the Obama administration is aiming to finalize emission rules before the end of its term.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said on the call that her country appreciates Canada's "strong leadership" on climate change and the Arctic.
"It's more important than ever that we co-operate and collaborate with our neighbours and friends across borders," she said.
When asked if Obama sees Trudeau as his "heir apparent" to promoting global climate change awareness, Dan Utech, the President's deputy assistant for energy and climate change, called Canada a "critical partner" in the process.
"President Obama views Prime Minister Trudeau as a very strong partner on this set of issues," Utech said.
The two countries hope to build on the U.S.-Canada Air Quality Agreement, established in 1991 to tackle cross-border air pollution causing acid rain.
The agreement was updated in 2000 to include the Ozone Annex, which monitors emissions of nitrogen oxides in an effort to curb smog.
Clean-energy advocates hailed the joint announcement on Thursday. The Alberta-based Pembina Institute said the commitment will represent a "tangible step forward on emissions reductions in Canada."