About methane emissions

Methane emissions come from:

  • landfills
  • wastewater
  • animal waste management systems
  • coal mining
  • oil and gas production facilities

Methane contributes to climate change, causes serious health issues, and hurts crop production.

It is the main component of natural gas that we use to heat our homes and power our factories. But it is also a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) and a climate pollutant, responsible for about 25% of the human-caused global warming we feel today. It is the second most common GHG in Canada, responsible for about 15% of our total GHG emissions. Methane also traps more than 70 times more heat over a 20-year period than the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. The oil and gas sector is the largest industrial polluter of methane emissions in Canada.

Reducing our methane emissions provides multiple benefits. For example, instead of venting and leaking methane, captured methane can be re-used by industry or sold for a profit. This would benefit the economy and create cleaner, more affordable energy.

The climate benefits from reducing methane pollution are significant.

Impacts on health

Methane emissions are often mixed with harmful cancer-causing air toxins and contribute to the formation of smog-forming pollutants, like ground-level ozone.

The oil and gas sector is an important contributor to air pollutant emissions. Air pollutants are responsible for the formation of:

  • fine particulate matter
  • ozone
  • smog
  • acid rain

Air pollutants are linked to a variety of serious public health effects, including:

  • lung problems
  • asthma attacks
  • early death from respiratory and cardiovascular complications

Reducing methane emissions will provide Canadians living and working near certain oil and gas facilities with better air quality. Cleaner air leads to better health and fewer hospital visits for those with conditions such as asthma and heart problems.

Government of Canada actions to reduce methane emissions

Actions at home

We introduced national methane regulations in 2018. These new regulations will reduce climate warming emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent. They are focused, flexible, and outcome based. They provide the oil and gas industry with compliance options and opportunities to innovate. Our new methane regulations are expected to reduce 20 million tonnes of methane in 2030. This is equal to taking about 5 million passenger vehicles off the road each year.

Learn about Canada’s methane regulations.

Actions abroad

Canada also contributes to other global initiatives designed to reduce methane emissions. These include:

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