Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2024. Robert Lyman’s bio can be read here.


COP 28, the recent United Nations summit conference on climate change, failed to attain most of its objectives. Most importantly, the conference failed to make any progress in narrowing the differences between the developed and developing countries over the funding of developing countries’ climate mitigation, adaptation and weather-related spending.

In brief, the developing countries demanded commitments exceeding USD two trillion per year starting in 2025; the developed countries committed just under USD 13.8 billion, 140 times less than what was asked. As the developing countries consider the provision of large financial and technology-related aid as the essential pre-condition for their efforts to reach “net-zero” emissions reduction goals, it follows that they will not pursue these goals and global “net-zero” will remain far out of reach.

In spite of this, the government of Canada chose to “double-down” on its all-out efforts to reduce Canadian emissions. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announced during the conference three measures that go further to reduce emissions and raise costs: the world’s most stringent regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector; imposition of a cap on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the oil and gas sector; and the government’s intention to introduce legislation in 2024 that will establish a “Biodiversity Accountability Framework”.

The announced draft regulations will seek to reduce oil and natural gas methane emissions by at least 75 percent below 2012 levels by 2030. Minister Guilbeault published an outline of them that estimated they will cost industry about $15 billion between 2027 and 2040. That cost will fall disproportionately on Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Minister Guilbeault announced a long-awaited regulatory framework for capping GHG emissions in the oil and gas sector. They will be based upon an emissions trading system (i.e. “cap and trade”) in which total emissions are limited to 35 to 38 per cent below 2019 levels.

The oil and gas industry is already subject to the carbon dioxide pricing system (aka carbon taxes and the output-based pricing system). Adding another tax is simply piling on, or harmfully duplicating, the regime already in place. It is also blatantly discriminatory; no other industry sector, including the emissions-intensive mining and metals industries, is being so singularly targeted. It will add to the already long list of reasons why the Canadian oil and gas industry stands at a competitive disadvantage compared to the oil and gas industries in other countries.

At this point, relatively little is known about what will be included in the biodiversity legislation. The bill, we understand, will establish an accountability framework for the federal government in fulfilling its “nature and biodiversity commitments” under the Kunming-Montreal Global Diversity Framework (GBF). The GBF reads like a copy of the IPCC’s most alarming Summaries for Policy Makers. The plan sets out 23 “targets” employing the full range of policy, regulatory and incentive measures available to governments.

There are many signals that the goal of global net zero GHG emissions is doomed. We have over 30 years of failed climate diplomacy while global emissions rose by over 60 per cent. We have the remarkable growth in emissions since the pandemic, so that global fossil fuel use and GHG emissions in 2023 are at an all-time high, only to be exceeded by what happens in 2024 and later years. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, under no likely future scenarios are global emissions likely to decline enough to meet the UN targets by 2050.

Contrasting with this reality, we have the steadfast determination of the Government of Canada to undertake ever-more-costly and intrusive measures to reduce emissions (i.e. mitigation). It sustains these efforts even though the policies are sharply increasing the cost of living in Canada, impairing our international competitiveness and growth prospects, and doing perhaps irreparable damage to our national unity. Even if the federal policies succeeded beyond all rational expectations in reducing Canada’s emissions to nothing within 27 years, their effects would be overwhelmed by global trends that we cannot possibly hope to control or offset.