Guilbeault evokes a cap by the end of 2023 for the oil and gas sector | COP27

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Guilbeault evokes a ceiling by the end of 2023 for the oil and gas sector | COP27

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Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault between German Ministers Steffi Lemke and Robert Habeck

Federal Minister of the Environment, Steven Guilbeault, said Monday that Canada's pledged emissions cap for the oil and gas sector will be ready by the end of next year. p>

In an interview from Egypt, where he is attending the 27th UN Climate Conference, Mr. Guilbeault said his government was developing these regulations in record time.

The final regulations should therefore be unveiled at least two years after the Liberals first promised during the 2021 election campaign to cap emissions from the oil and gas sector.

We will have a draft regulation maybe by spring, at the latest in the first half of the year, Guilbeault said. And then the goal is to have the full regulations before Christmas, which is, you know, record time to develop regulations. The minister noted that it took more than five years to develop the Clean Fuel Regulations.

Many Canadian environmental organizations that are parties for this COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh hoped that Minister Guilbeault would at least use this international summit to set the start of the cap.

Keith Brooks, program manager at Environmental Defence, recalled that the oil companies made record profits last year but showed no urgency to devote a large part of these profits to safeguarding the climate I think that if they knew where the ceiling is going to be, it might inject some urgency into the debate.

Mr. Guilbeault himself had strongly criticized Canadian oil companies for directing a higher proportion of their record profits to their shareholders than to climate programs.

The only clues left so far by the government about the targets for the cap are in the emissions reduction plan, published in March. This plan set an interim emissions target for the oil and gas sector of 110 million tonnes in 2030, a reduction of 46% from 2019 levels and 32% from 2005.

Canada aims to reduce emissions in all sectors by 40 to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. Environmental Defense and the Climate Action Network Canada recalled at the start of this COP27 that the oil and gas sector should reduce its emissions by 60% by 2030 compared to 2005.

Emissions from oil and gas production represent about a quarter of Canada's total carbon footprint. They are also 83% higher than 30 years ago. Overall emissions in Canada have increased by approximately 23% over the same period.

Minister Guilbeault, who sat on the side of environmental activists in previous meetings of the COP before being elected MP in 2019, now finds himself accusing his former comrades in struggle of being dishonest by demanding that he produce information on the ceiling now.

“Look, people who say we should do this now would be the first to criticize me if I didn't consult appropriate with, for example, the aboriginal peoples of Canada, as we have a constitutional duty to do. They know very well how our system works.

—Steven Guilbeault, Federal Minister of the Environment

The procedure in Canada for enacting new regulations requires a number of consultations, including the publication of a draft regulation and the acceptance of public comments on the draft, before the publication of the final version.

Frankly, I think it's a little dishonest to say, ''We want the cap now'', a said esteeming M. Guilbeault. They clearly know how it works. And we're cutting the time it takes to develop regulations in half.

The cap isn't the only sticking point between the federal government and environmentalists in Egypt. Several groups have strongly criticized Canada for inviting representatives of oil and gas companies as well as banks that finance fossil fuel projects as part of its delegation.

On Friday, the Canadian pavilion in COP27 hosted an event with the Pathways Alliance, a consortium of Canada's leading oil sands companies. Several environmental groups staged a raucous outing at the event.

Minister Guilbeault argued Monday that everyone should have a seat at the table. I respectfully disagree with my former colleagues in the environmental movement, he said. I think it's a very slippery slope when governments start deciding, in a democratic society, who can participate and who can't.

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