Government of Canada announces new economic incentive to reduce methane emissions from beef cattle
December 10, 2023 – Gatineau, Quebec
Against the backdrop of Food and Agriculture Day at COP28, the global community is witnessing a pivotal moment in the collective effort to address environmental challenges within the agricultural sector. As world leaders convene to deliberate on sustainable solutions, there is a growing consensus on the critical role agriculture plays in reducing emissions and fostering a more sustainable planet.
Today, Environment and Climate Change Canada published a draft fourth protocol under Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System. This new draft protocol, Reducing Enteric Methane Emissions from Beef Cattle (REME protocol), will incentivize farmers to implement changes that would reduce enteric methane emissions from their beef cattle operations with an opportunity to generate offset credits that they can sell.
Methane is generated during the natural digestive process of cows and is released into the air when cows burp. This is known as an enteric methane emission. The REME protocol will encourage beef cattle farms to reduce enteric methane emissions by improving animal diets, management, and other strategies that support more efficient animal growth. Each credit represents one tonne of emission reductions. Credits can be sold to facilities that will use them to meet emissions reduction obligations, or to other businesses to meet their low-carbon economy commitments. This means fewer methane emissions, and more financial opportunities for Canadian farmers.
To ensure the offset protocol will be a practical solution for farmers to earn revenue for emissions reductions, the Government of Canada developed the REME protocol with input from technical experts in the agricultural sector. Additionally, the Government is working closely with provinces and territories that have shown leadership in agricultural environmental action to incorporate best practices and build on their experience. For example, the draft REME protocol was informed by Alberta’s offset protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fed cattle.
The REME protocol is just one of a number of measures the Government of Canada is taking to help decarbonize the agricultural sector. Just last month, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced a $12 million investment in the Agricultural Methane Reduction Challenge. This Challenge awards funding to innovators advancing low-cost and scalable practices, processes, and technologies designed to reduce enteric methane emissions produced by cattle.
The Government of Canada is seeking input from stakeholders on the draft REME protocol. Interested parties are invited to submit comments via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org by February 6, 2024. The final protocol is expected to be published in the summer of 2024, when farmers can begin registering their projects in Canada’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Offset Credit System. For more information on Canada’s GHG Offset Credit System, eligible activities, and how to submit an application to register an offset project, please visit Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System.
“Canadian farmers have become frontline champions for climate action by harnessing the power of sustainable agriculture. The newest draft protocol under Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System not only addresses agricultural greenhouse gases, but will provide a financial benefit for Canadian farmers. This is an opportunity for farmers to implement practical solutions to reduce agricultural methane emissions, generate revenue, and harvest a greener future for all.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“Canada’s farmers and ranchers care deeply about the environment and want to be part of the solution to climate change. This initiative would ensure our ranchers benefit from the methane emissions reductions they achieve from their herds - that’s a win for the environment and for farmers. By working together with our farmers and ranchers, we can drive economic growth, keep the sector competitive, and put more money back into the pockets of our farmers, all while fighting climate change.”
– The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
In 2021, agriculture was responsible for 31 percent of Canada’s total methane emissions, the majority coming from enteric fermentation produced by beef and dairy cattle. Methane is generated during the natural digestive process of cows and is released into the air when cows burp. This is known as an enteric methane emission.
Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System provides an incentive for farmers, municipalities, Indigenous communities, foresters, and other project developers in sectors such as agriculture, waste, forestry, and advanced technology to undertake domestic projects that reduce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
The REME protocol builds on the existing suite of protocols published since the launch of Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System. The Offset Credit System is among several measures that Canada is taking to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and delivers on a commitment in Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan.
The Agricultural Methane Reduction Challenge builds on the Government of Canada’s actions to reduce methane emissions through Canada’s Methane Strategy, in support of the Global Methane Pledge, the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, and the Sustainable Agriculture Strategy.
On December 4, 2023, Environment and Climate Change Canada published strengthened oil and gas methane regulations to cut emissions from this potent greenhouse gas. From 2027 to 2040, the draft methane regulations will reduce cumulative emissions by 217 megatonnes (carbon dioxide equivalent). They will also have positive social and economic benefits of $12.4 billion from avoided global damages.
- Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Launches New Agricultural Methane Reduction Challenge
- 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Clean Air, Strong Economy
- 2023 Progress Report on the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan
- Faster and Further: Canada’s Methane Strategy
- Sustainable Agriculture Strategy
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
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