MARCH 13, 2013 speech in Vancouver, B.C.
"Good morning and welcome to the first Global Methane Initiative Expo to be held in North America.
Together with our partners at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I want to thank all of you for joining us here.
We are here together for one simple reason and that is that methane matters. It matters in our fight against global warming, in the quality of our air, water cycle, and crop yields. And it matters to our health.
Methane can remain in the atmosphere for up to 15 years. And it is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And because it is short-lived and powerful, compared to carbon dioxide, reducing methane emissions will have a significant effect on atmospheric warming. Yet the concentration of methane in the atmosphere has more than doubled over the last two centuries—largely as result of human-related activities.
That’s why this Expo is so important. And why we have 42 countries represented here. The Global Methane Initiative is a tremendous example of how international cooperation can improve the diffusion of existing and new technologies and address both climate change and energy security goals.
Under the United States’ leadership over 40 partner countries and 500 project network members have made it their mission to promote cost-effective methane recovery and use as a clean energy source.
And Canada is doing its part to make this happen. Since joining the Global Methane Initiative in 2005, Canada has invested more than $8 million in international projects that support the Initiative's goals of directly reducing or abating methane emissions.
Our investments focus on developing effective strategies to systematically identify and quantify significant cost-effective opportunities to reduce methane and other greenhouse gas emissions, and improve energy efficiency.
As you know, methane is one of the six greenhouse gases included under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Canada has already tackled two of its largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions—transportation and electricity. And thanks to our efforts to-date we are estimated to generate half of the reductions required for Canada to meet its Copenhagen target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels, by 2020.
Our Government continues to work with the provinces and stakeholders to develop greenhouse gas emission regulations for the oil and gas sector. These regulations will be announced when they are ready.
Canada understands the need for action on methane. That is why we have identified it as a toxic substance under our Environmental Protection Act. And it is why we are taking a leadership role, at home and abroad.
At the same time, more effective use of methane can also make an enormous contribution to sustainable development. It offers incredible opportunities as a source of cost-effective, clean energy.
The Government of Canada shares the Global Methane Initiative vision of a technology-driven future. That’s why we are taking action on a number of fronts to spur innovation and strengthen Canada’s position as a global leader in clean technologies.
Given the key role in the Canadian federation of provinces, territories, municipalities and the private sector in achieving methane reductions, the Government of Canada is working to enable action across the country. Notably, we are providing incentives to other levels of government and stakeholders to implement reductions and develop new technologies right across the country.
For example, the Government of Canada supports Sustainable Development Technology Canada which plays an active role in building Canada’s sustainable development technology infrastructure.
Over the past 10 years, Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s Tech Fund has supported more than 230 projects, worth nearly $600 million. And it has been boosted by another $1.4 billion in funding from other partners.
Just a few weeks ago, the Government of Canada announced nearly $62 million to fund new clean technology projects in agriculture, transportation, mining and energy.
One project, led by Diacarbon, a company here in British Columbia, uses thermal biomass refinery technology to convert biomass into bio-coal, the mechanical and physical equivalent of coal. This is a great example of the kind of projects the Global Methane Initiative is all about. This process avoids the release of methane from decomposition. And it also puts a waste product to good use in generating renewable energy.
As part of the Economic Action Plan, we are also providing funding to support sustainable energy generation and transmission through our Green Infrastructure Fund.
In Montreal, this Fund is supporting the construction of two systems to treat organic waste through anaerobic digestion as well as composting centers and a pilot project for pre-treating organic waste.
More broadly, Canada is committed to delivering support that levers private sector investment to help developing countries achieve their climate goals. We are notably delivering over $600 million to multilateral banks for the specific purpose of mobilizing private sector financing and innovation in climate friendly projects.
We encourage project developers and investors to work with these banks, who are participating here in Vancouver, including on Thursday’s finance panel, to look at opportunities to see their projects implemented. We look forward to Canadian support having a major impact in achieving reductions in methane and other greenhouse gases in the years ahead.
The advancement of science also enables action. And I am proud that my department engages some of Canada’s leading scientists in their field. In fact, Canada is an emerging leader in organics management and we are releasing a technical paper on municipal solid waste organics processing at this Expo.
Landfill gas capture and re-use is another area we are targeting.
With 64 landfill gas energy projects across Canada, we are capturing about 30 percent of Canada’s landfill gas.
And we are looking for ways to increase this capture. Our recent inventory of Canada’s landfill gas emissions will help guide us on this issue.
Of course no country can act in isolation when it comes to methane. That is why Canada has been so active on the international front, including in the Global Methane Initiative, and why we have committed funding to support the actions of developing countries to address their own emissions of methane.
These investments include efforts to address methane emissions from landfills in China, Mexico and Colombia as well as reduce fugitive methane emissions in their oil and gas sectors.
And, as part of our fast start climate change financing, Canada is acting on two fronts: we’re helping countries develop methane-related Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions in the waste management and oil and gas sectors; and we’re working with them to develop the implementation and financing plans to actually realize these reductions.
Beyond the Global Methane Initiative, Canada is also working with the international community to address short-lived climate pollutants, including methane, hydrofluorocarbons and black carbon. It is estimated that these pollutants, whose lifetime in the atmosphere is shorter than long-lived gases like CO2, will contribute about half of the climate warming from man-made emissions over the next couple of decades.
Short-lived climate pollutants are of particular concern to Arctic countries, like Canada, because they may be responsible for the more rapid warming we are currently experiencing in the far North, notably due to the effect of black carbon deposited on snow and ice.
We have been working to address these pollutants within the Arctic Council and as a founding member—and lead partner—in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. Canada was the first country to provide funding for the Coalition’s work. We believe it has enormous potential to effectively address short-term climate goals and to improve the health of millions of people around the globe.
Canada’s support is helping developing countries implement actions, for example in areas such as municipal solid waste brick production and promoting alternatives to hydrofluorucarbons.
We are also working with our Partners in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to have its activities build on and strengthen the successes of initiatives like the Global Methane Initiative.
So on many fronts—and in many countries—Canada is an active and engaged partner when it comes to addressing both the challenges and opportunities of methane.
We know the importance of methane. We know that the challenges are great. But meeting these challenges brings even greater rewards. The Government of Canada proudly supports Expos like the Global Methane Initiative that encourage the development and implementation of policies and technologies that will make a difference in our countries and our communities. And leave to future generations a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable world.
I wish all of you a successful Expo."