Published On: July 18, 2022

Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA], 18 July 2022:

Today, Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson released their thinking on how the federal government would cap and decrease oil and gas emissions – a key part of Canada’s strategy to meet its climate goals, given the outsized role the sector plays as the largest contributor to GHG emissions in Canada. As millions of people around the world suffer from climate-induced heatwaves, capping oil and gas sector emissions could be a game-changer for climate action in Canada – if implemented with sufficient rigour and ambition.

“This discussion paper is a call to action for our movement,” said Caroline Brouillette, National Policy Manager at Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada. “The oil and gas cap offers Prime Minister Trudeau his best shot at finally tackling Canada’s emissions problem and positioning this country as a strong player in the global clean energy economy. He must put communities and the climate first, and stand strong against any pressure from fossil fuel lobbyists to water down or delay this critical policy.”

As the discussion paper notes, oil and gas is Canada’s highest-emitting sector, accounting for 27% of domestic emissions in 2020. Canada’s emissions continue to rise because more oil and gas is being produced than ever before. The government must choose a policy option that will quickly and effectively drive down oil and gas emissions; the most obvious way to do so would be a hard, declining cap on oil and gas emissions. Among the options presented in the discussion paper, a cap-and-trade system would provide the most clarity and certainty, but Ministers Guilbeault and Wilkinson must ensure the policy does not allow for industry to game the system with false solutions and delays.

For Canada to do its fair share of the global effort to limit warming to 1.5°C, the oil and gas sector must reduce its emissions by at least 60% from 2005 levels by 2030. The “expected contribution” of the sector identified in Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan – reducing emissions by 31% below 2005 levels by 2030 – not only falls far short of 60%, but fails to even ensure the oil and gas sector would do its fair share to reach Canada’s current climate target of 40 to 45% emissions reduction. Unless the oil and gas industry does its part to reduce emissions, other sectors, workers and consumers will be left to pick up the slack.

Scope 3 emissions – including emissions that occur when Canadian fossil fuels are burned outside of the country – should be covered in the cap. Data from Environment Canada, secured by Ecojustice, shows that in 2019, emissions from exported fossil fuels were 954 Mt – outstripping total domestic emissions, which were 730 megatonnes (Mt) of CO2. If the cap only addresses emissions released within Canada’s borders, it will continue to ignore the lion’s share of the oil and gas pollution for which Canada is responsible.

The proceeds that are raised from the policy’s revenue should be redirected to fund a Just Transition in Canada, rather than to provide yet another fossil fuel subsidy at a time when the oil and gas industry has been raking in record profits. For this policy to succeed, it must be paired with a proactive Just Transition strategy designed for and by workers and communities currently involved in this sector.

Read our media backgrounder on the emissions cap here.


Canada’s farthest-reaching network of organizations working on climate and energy issues, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada is a coalition of 140 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Vicky Coo, Communications Lead, 613-203-3272