Canada’s environment commissioner says a federal pandemic aid program for the oil and gas sector is supposed to keep jobs and cut greenhouse gas emissions not set up to actually do either of those things.
“This is a program that needs a lot of improvement,” commissioner Jerry DeMarco said Thursday of the program called the Onshore Emissions Reduction Fund.
The $675 million program was announced in April 2020 to help the industry continue to grow amid a sharp drop in fossil fuel use in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program funds projects to help oil and gas companies meet or exceed regulations that require them to cut down on methane that leaks out or is intentionally released during production.
DeMarco’s audit of the program released on Thursday said the process the Natural Resources Department uses to calculate emissions lacks transparency.
It also said the emissions cuts claimed were based on outdated data on existing emissions, and that the program did not guarantee that companies were using the money for new projects they would not otherwise undertake.
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It said two-thirds of applicants for the 40 projects funded in the first round admitted the funds would help them boost production. But neither they nor the federal government take into account the increased emissions it will create.
DeMarco said he was “disappointed” with the design and implementation of the program, as well as the department’s response to the audit.
He said the department disagreed with all of the audit’s findings, defending some practices, and DeMarco said that didn’t bode well for any fixes.
More than 80% of the funds are still unallocated and he said it’s not too late to fix the program to make it work.
“Based on their feedback, I am not optimistic but there is still a chance they will see the wisdom of this fund adjustment,” he said.
The government claims the program will eventually cut between 5.1 and 8.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, but audits say the first 5.1 million tonnes of that will come as long as companies comply. comply with methane regulations.
The audit said only the remaining 3.7 million tonnes could be attributed to the emissions reduction fund, which has helped companies pass those regulations.
But the department acknowledged that would require nearly all of the 610 oil and gas companies to qualify for the funding and use it to exceed the methane regulation.
Not only does DeMarco say it’s too ambitious, but the government claims it has achieved 3.1 million tonnes of emissions cuts from just the first 40 projects undertaken by 15 companies.
DeMarco’s findings come at the same time as a damning report on Canada’s overall progress on climate change, according to which over the past three decades Canada’s emissions have increased by 20%.
“Canada has been a leader in the fight against climate change,” DeMarco said. “However, after a series of missed opportunities, it has become the worst performing country among the G7 nations since the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change was adopted in 2016. 2015. We cannot keep going from failure to failure; we need action and results, not just more goals and plans”.
© 2021 Canadian Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/8402616/canada-greenhouse-gas-emissions/ Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction program is failing, audit shows – National