Reducing methane emissions
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with at least 25 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year period. Scientists estimate that methane is responsible for 30% of observed global warming to date and that the level of atmospheric methane continues to rise.
Methane is classified as a short-lived climate pollutant, meaning it stays in the atmosphere for a short time compared to other gases like CO2. As a result, actions to cut methane emissions will quickly lower their atmospheric concentrations and lead to a relatively quick climate response. Taking action to reduce emissions is one of the fastest, most cost-effective things we can do to fight climate change, protect our environment, and keep our air clean.
Methane Trend from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Laboratory in Alert, Nunavut
Figure 1: Methane trend from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Laboratory in Alert, Nunavut. Methane concentration measured in parts per billion.
This graphic is a line graph displaying the monthly mean (blue dots) of atmospheric methane concentration, the trend of these measurements (yellow line) and the annual cycle (turquoise line) from June 15, 1985 to March 15, 2022.
The following table displays the annual mean for each year and corresponding observation report.
Canada’s methane emissions
Methane emission projections to 2030
Based on National Inventory Report 2021
Canada’s methane emission projections to 2030 (based on the National Inventory Report (NIR) 2021) (in megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent).
Totals may not add up due to rounding.
The Global Methane Pledge Target is a 30% reduction below 2020 levels – applied to a Canadian context.
|Sector/Year||Agriculture||Oil and gas||Waste||Others||Total|
Total methane emissions in 2021
|Sector||Megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e)||Percentage (%) of total|
|Oil and gas||37||41%|
What we’re doing
Canada’s Methane Strategy
Canada’s Methane Strategy provides a pathway to further reduce methane emissions from across the economy. It builds on Canada’s progress and commitments since 2015, including the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan.
- Faster and Further: Canada’s Methane Strategy (September 2022)
Recent actions to reduce methane
- September 2023: Environment and Climate Change Canada released an update on path forward for oil and gas sector methane mitigation to highlight key actions the Government of Canada will take to drive as many sources to near zero as possible and ensure at least a 75% reduction in oil and gas methane emissions by 2030.
- April 2023: Environment and Climate Change Canada released a proposed regulatory framework for new federal regulations to reduce methane emissions from landfills by 50% by 2030.
- November 2022: Environment and Climate Change Canada published a proposed methane regulations framework outlining the main elements being considered for reducing oil and gas methane emissions.
- March 2022: Canada launched the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, which includes reducing methane emissions as a key part of reaching the emissions reduction target of 40–45% below 2005 levels by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
- January 2022: Environment and Climate Change Canada released a discussion paper outlining options for reducing methane emissions from Canada’s landfills.
- November 2021: Canada joined over 100 countries in supporting the Global Methane Pledge to work collectively towards reducing human-caused methane emissions by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030.
- October 2021: Canada was the first country to commit to a 75% reduction in methane emissions from its oil and gas sector from 2012 levels by 2030.
Cleaner oil and gas sector
Canada was one of the first countries in the world to regulate methane emissions from the oil and gas sector at the national level. It is also the first country to commit to developing a plan that includes regulations of at least a 75% reduction by 2030, from 2012 levels. Reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector includes many low-cost solutions and is one of most effective ways to slow the pace of climate warming. Although the sector is a major economic contributor to the economy, it is also the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2020, the sector produced 38% of Canada’s methane emissions.
- Oil and gas methane regulations
- Oil and gas emissions cap
- Emissions Reduction Fund
- Clean Fuel Regulations
- Output-Based Pricing System
Agriculture plays an essential role in the economy, and Canada’s farmers help feed the world. Canadian farmers will remain key partners in developing and implementing solutions to tackle climate change and build resilience.
The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Canadian farmers and industry partners who are taking action to reduce emissions, sequester carbon and make their operations more sustainable, productive and competitive.
Capturing landfill methane emissions
Capturing and destroying methane emissions from landfills provides Canadian municipalities with economic and health benefits. These emissions account for 28% of Canada’s total methane emissions.
Measurement, research, innovation and reporting
Canada is a global leader in developing and implementing innovative technologies to detect, track and address methane emissions. We will continue to develop and share innovations in methane science as accurate measurement and quantification of methane is critical to achieving Canada’s methane targets.
Measuring and reporting methane emissions
Supporting Canadian Science and Research
Government of Canada scientists work closely with academia and other experts to study and monitor methane emissions.
- Chasing after methane’s ultra-emitters
- Investigation of the Spatial Distribution of Methane Sources in the Greater Toronto Area Using Mobile Gas Monitoring Systems | Environmental Science & Technology
- Eight-Year Estimates of Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Operations in Western Canada Are Nearly Twice Those Reported in Inventories
- Analysis of atmospheric CH4 in Canadian Arctic and estimation of the regional CH4 fluxes
- Quantification of methane sources in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region of Alberta by aircraft mass balance
- Where the Methane Is—Insights from Novel Airborne LiDAR Measurements Combined with Ground Survey Data
Supporting clean technology development
From a small start-up in Montréal, Quebec, in 2011, GHGSat has grown to be a recognized global leader in the high-resolution, remote-sensing of greenhouse gas from space. Their data is equipping decision-makers with the intelligence needed to cut methane emissions.
As global momentum to reduce methane emissions continues to grow, Canada’s clean technology innovations will provide solutions needed to help accelerate the pace. This strategy advances Canada’s expertise on methane technologies in order to capitalize on the $3.6 trillion clean tech market, creating green energy jobs now and in the future.
- Government of Canada supports world-leading Canadian satellite-based emissions detection system (news release)
Supporting global methane emissions reductions
Canada is providing global leadership and support to tackle methane emissions around the world. From innovative clean tech solutions, financial assistance to developing countries and participation in international climate initiatives to help other countries reduce their methane emissions, we are helping to ensure a cleaner, healthier planet.
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