Capping oil and gas sector emissions is a promise years in the making for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, and after judicial setbacks, right-wing backlash to climate policies and internal division in his own party bubbling to the surface, Canadians should expect an update imminently to this crucial climate policy.

“I would be shocked if by the end of this [UN climate conference] we haven't announced a framework for capping the emissions of the oil and gas sector in Canada,” Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault said Friday at COP28 in Dubai. “It's coming.”

In an interview with Canada’s National Observer, Guilbeault said details of the announcement are being finalized but should be ready “in the coming days.”

The pledge to cap Canada’s largest and fastest-growing source of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions is nothing short of Trudeau’s top trophy to show off at international climate negotiations. He campaigned on it in 2021, and when he went to the UN’s climate summit that year in Glasgow, he promised the world Canada would deliver on it. In September, Trudeau travelled to New York City to speak during the UN’s Climate Ambition Summit, where he committed to a “framework” for capping oil and gas emissions by year’s end.

Since then, pressure has continued to mount. In late November, 19 Liberal MPs signed an open letter urging Trudeau, Guilbeault, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to introduce draft regulations ahead of COP28 “to maintain credibility internationally.”

Destination Zero executive director and member of Canada’s Net Zero Advisory Body Catherine Abreu said part of why Canada’s credibility seems to be on a roller coaster at times is because it has been able to boast climate leadership in international negotiations, even as oil and gas production and emissions increase, since fossil fuels have only recently been openly discussed. In the past two years, that dynamic has flipped and fossil fuels have been dragged into the spotlight for their overwhelming role in driving the climate crisis.

“So Canada and many other producing countries are being asked serious questions about what they plan to do when it comes to accelerating the energy transition and addressing emissions from fossil fuel production,” she said.

That’s what makes the emissions cap a significant trophy for Trudeau in diplomatic spaces. It offers needed credibility that has previously been lacking. But it’s not the only reason pressure to adopt this policy continues to grow.

“The Liberal Party of Canada won the election in 2021 in large part for having the most ambitious and achievable climate plan, and it continues to be the priority topic that the Liberal Party is most trusted on,” the open letter sent to Trudeau reads. “Consistently one of the top three most important issues in Canada, it will be critical in the next election.

In an interview with Canada’s National Observer, Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault said details of the oil and gas emissions cap framework are being finalized but should be ready “in the coming days.”

“Polling has shown that Canadians are overwhelmingly in favour of a cap on emissions from oil and gas, including a significant majority in Alberta, and especially those [who] may vote Liberal from coast to coast to coast,” it adds. “While Alberta Premier Danielle Smith may protest, she does not reflect the view of Albertans, and there is no hope of accommodating her as she has already confirmed that she will not accept an emissions cap of any sort.”

British Columbia MP Patrick Weiler spearheaded the open letter and told Canada’s National Observer that the longer the emissions cap is delayed, the harder it will be to bring into force. Weiler finds himself in the climate wing of the Liberal Party and is fundamentally illustrative of the bind the party finds itself in. The Grits are under fire in some regions of the country for going too far on climate at a time when seats like Weiler’s are at risk of being lost for not going far enough. Weiler’s riding, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, has never been won by the NDP, but noted climate activist Avi Lewis is betting he can win, committing last election, when he lost by single digits, to run at least once more.

In other words, the emissions cap has become a stand-in for credibility, both internationally and domestically, for Trudeau’s government. Without credibility, the chances of securing a fourth term in office look especially unlikely.

Climate advocates have been frustrated about delays to the emissions cap since it was announced, and in the absence of information, are deeply concerned it won’t be strong enough to address the crisis at hand. Moreover, they note the “framework” being announced would not be binding, and is sometimes understood among close Parliament Hill watchers as a way to demonstrate progress when cabinet is split on what to do precisely because it lacks force.

Draft regulations, and then final regulations, need to be tabled and passed by the House of Commons before a cap can be put in place.

To underscore the risk — it took two years to develop a non-binding framework. How long will it take to develop draft regulations, go through consultations, develop final regulations and then pass it?

Guilbeault says draft regulations will be published in the first half of 2024, and he hopes sooner than June, but could not commit to a specific timeline.

“What has slowed down a little bit of the development is we've been facing some headwinds, certainly from a judicial perspective,” Guilbeault said. He pointed to the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent opinion, which found the federal government has the power to do federal environmental assessments but ruled the language of the Impact Assessment Act was too broad, and the recent Federal Court ruling that struck down a cabinet order Ottawa used to ban some single-use plastics. The feds are appealing the Federal Court decision.

Those judicial findings “forced us to really make sure we've dotted our i's and crossed our t's because [the emissions cap] will likely be challenged and … we want to try to maximize our chance of this being upheld when it’s legally challenged,” Guilbeault said.

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Great article as usual please watch the language.
Don't fall in, don't give the slimy, nasty conservative narrative ANY more oxygen than it already totally has in ALL the media by headlining it with "the trophy that TRUDEAU wants."
We should bloody well ALL want that!! Him and the Liberal Party are THE vehicle here, the ONLY one really at this critical juncture (how NOT I ask?) so please don't lump him in with the usual politicians in the usual way where he's shamelessly stoking his own considerable ego because he just wants to hold onto political power, an aspiration that automatically makes him suspect at best and utterly untrustworthy at worst. Especially when this narrative has been so assiduously and so hypocritically stoked by conservatives, (utterly inexplicable but also telling masters of narrative) despite them being competing combatants for said power in the game/contest/upcoming election that is the context that it completely and disastrously dominates. We are so inclined toward the vain, personal comfort of the weeds at all times, no matter what, even when WHAT has arrived in the form of a genuine, existential threat, the ultimate context that nonetheless deters the evil cons not.... one.... jot. Which is what makes them truly evil or maybe just mentally challenged somehow, but dangerous as hell either way.
And the glaring hypocrisy of calling out fellow "playas" in the game you are ALSO actively playing does NOTHING to address the pervasive, negative and alienating perception of politicians as used-car salesmen either, voter turnout is highly salient, but the legions of "low-information" voters DO like a winner don't they? And who doesn't after all?!
Polls should no longer be allowed; all they do is sway all those people preferring to be on the "winning side" regardless and even when stakes are sky high, literally, because they can and DO become self-fulfilling prophecy. We know this.
I heard on CBC yesterday that the majority polled think Poilievre is the one who can somehow address the housing crisis because of a long you-tube ad where he stupidly, doggedly blames Trudeau for the whole thing, which he does EVERY time he opens his frigging mouth, which you would THINK would signal SOME suspicion but NOPE.
So this is what we're dealing with, meaning that language matters, and so does positive, overt support at every turn from here on in.

First of all, thank you for attending COP28 as a journalist and reporting on issues in support of climate policy and climate action. As an Albertan, I'm saddened by our Premier's lopsided support of the fossil fuel industry in Alberta. For decades Albertans have wanted to diversify their economy and as billions are being invested in renewable energy we finally see the opportunity to build something that doesn't involve polluting the air and destabilizing the Earth's climate. Make no mistake, we've lived through some disastrous downturns in the oil patch, as recently as 2014. It hurts a lot of people in Alberta, but we've always survived because their are other industries in this province to keep the economy alive. We need to build more of these industries like renewable energy, information technology, regenerative agriculture, finance, manufacturing and tourism. Rather than wringing their hands over clean electricity and the number of Tesla's on the road, Alberta should be worried about a future of wildfire smoke, summer heatwaves, crippling droughts and stressed water resources. A phase-out of fossil fuels is coming around the world and Alberta will not be immune. A cap on emissions and preferably a cap on production is only the first step in forcing Albertans to face this reality. Many can see what's coming, but many are still clinging to our glorious past when oil money flowed down the streets of Calgary. Those days are gone and the politicians promising to bring them back know better. The best they can achieve is to line the pockets of their fossil industry backers for a few more years, but that is going to cost the rest of us dearly.

Indeed. I'm more than saddened I must say; I'm infuriated and more and more alarmed. Watching coverage of COP today with Guilbeault standing next to Fatih Birol from I.A.E., proudly announcing a 30 million dollar program in order to MONITOR methane emissions so the Liberals can reduce them by 75% by 2030 (at last, a genuine "stick"), Smith's expected reaction came right after and sounded even more glaringly irrational than usual in that context.
She didn't show up in person though and I wondered briefly; is it possible that she's grasped just HOW out of her depth she is on the genuine world stage of this world commodity?
But the one thing you can count on with these people is just how closed their minds truly are. Like steel traps. It's the main thing that disqualifies them from modern governance.
And although I'd welcome a report about Alberta and Saskatchewan representing authentic prairie rubes, or maybe a pic or two just for the optics, it's really not at all funny.
Which leads me again to wondering what can be done with such a seriously incompetent government? I know we don't overthrow governments here; that would be unprecedented, but what about literally everything that THEY'RE doing, not to mention what they're still working on? And the fact that the majority of Albertans WANT something done about climate change?
I guess the strategy of giving them enough rope to hang themselves is still in play, but it feels a bit like we're all being strangled as well.