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Canada’s oil and gas emissions cap is necessary and fair

OTTAWA — Mark Zacharias, executive director at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the oil and gas emissions cap framework released today:

“Canada should be commended for putting in place the world’s first national oil and gas emissions cap by a major fossil-fuel-producing country. The cap is the last line of defence to ensure that emissions from Canada’s fossil fuel industry don’t put the country offside its climate commitments.

“As global temperatures rise above the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal, it is critical that all fossil-fuel-producing nations cap their emissions and drive them down sooner than later in a cost-effective manner. By setting up a cap-and-trade system, Canada is helping producers find the most efficient ways to do this.

“Today’s announcement is encouraging but also light on key details. Those companies that are unable to meet their emissions target can buy carbon offsets, contribute to a decarbonization fund, or employ international carbon credits. Details on compliance options in particular are yet to come, creating the risk that the hoped-for reduction in carbon pollution will not be achieved.   

“Most importantly, the cap must be put in place immediately. The 2030 deadline is only six years away, and the longer the government waits, the harder it will be for industry to make the necessary investments to meet the target. Long-term clarity and certainty are key ingredients for investors, and Canada should provide plenty of both.

“To its credit, Canada has been providing more clarity in recent weeks as it moves forward key climate measures and investment tax credits, including for carbon capture and storage—one way the government will help the fossil fuel industry meet these new requirements. 

“Canada’s oil and gas sector is our nation’s biggest climate polluter, and its emissions have risen in recent years, while most other sectors have seen shrinking carbon footprints. The federal government is offering both compliance flexibility and carbon removal investment tax credits to smooth the way forward. In the face of costly climate change and an accelerating global energy transition, that’s a fair bargain.”

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