Canada’s Sector-by-Sector Regulatory Approach: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The release of Canada’s long-awaited federal GHG regulations for the oil and gas sector appeared to hit yet another bump in the road in late 2013, when Prime Minister Harper noted that Canada’s regulations would be developed “in concert with the US” and “over the next couple of years.”[1]

Since then, many stakeholders have been struggling to interpret the comments, especially with respect to the potentially extended rule-making timeline and engagement with the US. Further delays in the regulatory agenda have a number of far-reaching implications on: 

  • Reaching Emissions Reductions Goals and Setting New Ones: Canada’s latest
    emissions trend report shows that even with current actions, Canada will miss its
    international commitment of 17 % below 2005 levels by 2020 by at least 122 Mt. These
    findings should serve as a catalyst to implement not only oil and gas regulations, but
    those within other sectors that have been under discussion for some time now. 
  • Canada/US Relations and Keystone: Considerable time and effort has been spent
    reassuring the U.S. that Canada’s oil and gas regulations are right around the corner.
    While President Obama has not been as vocal on this front as of late, the absence of
    regulations in Canada continues to have an impact on political perception South of the
    border. Canada’s recent formal submission to Keystone’s public comment period says
    Canada remains committed to regulations, but is very scant on details. 
  • Policy and Investment Certainty at the Provincial and Territorial Level:
    A number of 
    jurisdictions, including British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario are seeking to move
    forward in designing new or strengthening current regulatory approaches, but some fear the
    ‘first mover, bleeding edge’ effect in the absence of a clear federal framework.
     

That said, the sub-national leadership that has emerged in recent years is commendable and continued sub-national
action could very well pre-empt federal movement. A key 
bellwether of this will be any changes made to Alberta’s SGER ahead of its renewal in September 2014. 

By Jessica Boyle, jboyle@delphi.ca  

 



[1] The exact text of the Prime Minister’s statement read: “…oil and gas is an integrated sector continentally …our government is certainly prepared to work with the United States on a regulatory regime that will bring our emissions down. But I think this would be best done if we could do this in concert with our major trading partner, given as I say it is a seamless industry in North America. So that’s what I’m hoping we’ll be able to do over the next couple of years.”  
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