Gas-lighting Alberta: Canada’s Oil and Gas Methane Regulations


On December 5, 2023, during the COP28 international climate conference, the Government of Canada announced draft regulations to reduce oil and natural gas methane emissions by at least 75 percent below 2012 levels by 2030.

Methane (CH4) is a colourless, odourless, flammable gas present in the Earth’s atmosphere at low concentrations. It acts as a greenhouse gas (GHG). Water vapor is the main GHG, with a concentration in the atmosphere of 6,400 parts per million (ppmv). Carbon dioxide’s (CO2) concentration is 420 ppmv. Methane (CH4) has a concentration of about 1.9 ppmv, or less than one two-hundredths of that of carbon dioxide.

According to the International Energy Agency, in 2022 global methane emissions were around 580 million tonnes. Natural sources such as wetlands account for about 40% of the emissions, and the remaining 60% is from human activity. The emissions from human activity in turn are divided among agriculture (40-50%); coal mining (10-15%); oil production (10%); natural gas production (10-15%); waste water (7-10%); and solid waste (7-10%). Methane emissions from oil and gas thus account for about (60×25%=) 16 % of total annual methane emissions, including natural sources.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has indicated a global warming potential (GWP)  for methane between 84 and 87 times that of CO2 when considering its impact over a 20-year period and between 28 and 36 times when considering its impact over a 100-year timeframe. 

In 2020, Canada’s methane emissions amounted to 92 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). That equates to about 3.7 million tonnes of CH4. That is 13.6% of Canada’s total GHG emissions in 2020 or 0.2% (two one thousandths) of global GHG emissions in 2020. The emissions were largely from fugitive sources in oil and natural gas systems (32.5 MtCO2e, or 34% of Canadian CH4 emissions); agriculture (30% of total Canada CH4 emissions); and  municipal landfills and industrial wood waste landfills (27% of total Canadian CH4 emissions).

China, India, Russia,and Iran, four of the 10 highest methane emitters, have not signed the Global Methane Pledge.

As is typical of global and national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there has been no published estimate of the costs and benefits of the actions involved.  The federal government estimates that the proposed new regulations will cost Canadian industry about $15 billion between 2027 and 2040.

One is left asking questions about the priority being placed on efforts globally and in Canada to reduce methane emissions. Fundamentally, why would Canada, a country whose methane emissions constitute 0.2% of the global total, decide to far exceed the methane emission reduction pledges made by other countries and to incur proportionately far more of the costs?

Canadians should demand answers.


  1. paul schmidt

    Methane is not a man-made emission, it orientates from swamps, bubbling up in marches etc (In Niagara, farmers used to put in pipes to tap this energy). The Methane we see coming out of stacks is on oil wells that do emit some methane and therefore burn it off. so it should be classified as a natural emission.

    And as a footnote, with all due respect,s I am insulated hat you feel you have to lecture me on how to reply!!!!!

    • paul schmidt

      Sorry for the typos: it should read “And as a footnote, with all due respects I am insulated that you feel you have to lecture me on how to reply!!!!!”

      • paul schmidt


  2. karabar

    The REAL gas-lighting is embedded in the lies that surround this general topic.
    1. Global warming…………….there is none
    2. Greenhouse gas…………..there is none. All planets and heavenly bodies with an atmsophere greater than 10 MPa enjoy a temperature differential due to the composition of the atmsophere and its physical properties.
    3. Methane is 87 times as bad as CO2. OK 87 times zero is NOTHING.

  3. Patrick Hunt

    Does anyone know how the calculation is made to support the claim that methane as the potential of 84-87 times greater GWG affect than CO2?

  4. John Sutherland

    The effectiveness of methane as a “greenhouse gas” is dependent on several factors:
    1. Its propensity as a molecule for absorbing infrared radiation,
    2. The specific wavelengths in the infrared region where can absorb radiation,
    3. Its concentration,
    4. Any competition from other greenhouse gases in the spectra where it is active.

    The problem for methane is that, while it may well be very effective as a molecule in absorbing radiation, there are only two limited spectra in the infrared where it is active, namely, at about 3 and 7 wavelengths. These spectra are small and can only absorb a very limited quantity of radiation. Additionally, methane must compete with water vapour in both these regions. While water vapour molecules are not as effective as methane in absorbing radiation, their concentration is many hundreds of times greater than methane. In consequence, it probably can safely be concluded that methane is a very minor player in terms of being a greenhouse gas.

  5. John Sutherland

    The potential impact of methane as a greenhouse gas depends on several factors:
    1. The ability of the individual methane molecule to absorb infrared radiation,
    2. The specific ranges in the infrared spectrum where methane molecules can absorb,
    3. The concentration of methane, and
    4. The. competition faced by methane from other greenhouse gases.

    Methane molecules are very good at attracting specific infrared emissions. Unfortunately they attract only in two small and limited regions of infrared, at 3.5 and 6.5 wave length. In these regions methane is in competition with water vapour. Notwithstanding the fact that methane is a much better attractor infrared than water vapour, the simple fact that water vapour concentration is approximately 3000 times higher than that of methane means that water vapour will win the competition. I think that it can be concluded that methane is probably not as important a greenhouse gas as it is made out to be.

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