Sierra Club Canada Happy to See Emissions Cap, Says Any Loopholes for Industry Must be Closed

Organization says a strong emissions cap is a fundamental measure for fairness to Canadians

Media Statement: For Immediate Release December 7, 2023.

Version française ci-dessous.

Image of a wildfire with the text "Media statement on Canada's emissions cap announcement" and the Sierra Club Canada logo. From the page Canada Emissions Cap Statement Cop28Sierra Club Canada is happy to see the announcement of a framework for a cap on emissions from the oil and gas industry, but says there is still room to make the cap stronger so it aligns with national emissions reduction targets. They also say loopholes to the cap must not be given to the oil and gas industry and that they will fight to close them to ensure Canada has effective regulation of climate pollution. Loopholes currently include:

  • The fact that cap and trade is not as effective as direct enforcement.
  • The fact that this is a framework and it’s important that Trudeau act quickly to implement the cap well before 2026 as his government has a mandate to do so in this term.
  • That having companies pay into a fund if they exceed their emissions caps should not be considered as equal to actually reducing emissions.
  • It’s also important that the federal government end an ‘over reliance’ on consultations with the oil and gas industry who have for too long dominated input on climate policy in spite of Canadians’ calls for a cap.

Advocates against the cap are only helping to stall an important shift to a renewable economy that is vital for workers in provinces like Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador, they state.

“At a time when Canadians are struggling to make ends meet, the oil and gas industry has been posting record profits while laying off workers and causing us to miss our climate targets. We also know the fossil fuel industry will do the bare minimum it is required to do through sound regulation and enforcement  – so these regulations need to be ironclad,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Programs Director at Sierra Club Canada. “Our members and supporters have fought hard for this piece of policy and we thank them for that support.”

“We are not done yet but we are one step closer to preventing wildfires and other climate impacts in the future, like those that caused so much destruction in Canada this past summer. But the work is not over, the oil and gas industry must not be allowed to stall this policy as they’ve done repeatedly already.”

The organization says the emissions cap has wide majority public support and emphasizes that this is an opportunity for political leaders to build unity around climate action in Canada. They call out the oil and gas industry for attempting to sow division between Canadians on the issue of climate action while unfairly burdening individual Canadians with the cost of taking climate action. Sierra Club Canada claims that, without a strong cap, the ‘slack’ left by the oil and gas industry as they fail to rein in their emissions will have to be picked up by Canadians instead if we are to meet our national emissions reduction targets.

“Seventy percent of Canadians want a strong emissions cap on the oil and gas industry, and that includes the majority of Albertans according to two recent polls,” says Conor Curtis, Head of Communications at Sierra Club Canada. “Canadians are being asked to do our part to limit emissions, and many of us are happy to do so, but it’s only fair that the oil and gas companies primarily responsible for our poor climate track record also do their part, especially given the outrageous profits they have made in these otherwise hard times.”

The organization hopes this will pave the way for the further strengthening of the emissions cap. They also hope this cap puts further emphasis on energy savings and clean energy, which they say is the only viable way forward for Canada as the oil and gas industry falls into an inevitable decline.


Please see below for a quick facts section on the emissions cap issue.

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Quick facts and considerations on the emissions cap:

– Without an effective cap on the oil and gas sector other sectors and Canadians would need to carry the weight of reducing their emissions to offset the emissions of the oil and gas industry.

– Two recent independent polls found a majority of Albertans support a cap on emissions. 7 out of 10 Canadians also support the cap.

– The commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada has concluded that “the federal government is set to miss its 2030 target to cut carbon emissions by at least 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030” and that “While the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan included important mitigation measures to reduce emissions, some of these measures, such as the Oil and Gas Emissions Cap and the Clean Fuel Regulations, have been delayed…”

– In February alone, oil and gas industry lobbyists met with federal government officials at least 91 times.

– The oil and gas sector, while only 5% of Canada’s economy, is Canada’s most polluting sector causing 27% of national emissions.

– The oil and gas sector has also seen huge profits while Canadians by contrast are facing hard economic times: “Of every dollar of inflation over the last two years in Canada, 25 cents of that has gone to oil and gas and mining extraction profits.”

– The International Energy Agency is calling for a 60 per cent reduction in oil and gas emissions by 2030 to avoid the worst climate catastrophes.

– This year tens of thousands of Canadians were forced to evacuate because of wildfires, and Indigenous communities were particularly affected.

– A fair cap on emissions from oil and gas, at the same level as Canada’s national climate target (45% below 2005 levels by 2030), would avoid the premature deaths of approximately 4,860 people in Canada over a decade, and come with economic benefit of CAD $45.1 billion, according to a new analysis from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE): “The true economic and health benefits are likely far greater, as this analysis does not account for the avoided health care costs associated with premature deaths nor non-fatal health outcomes of air pollution – including respiratory conditions such as asthma, cardiac disease, neurological disorders including dementia, and reproductive issues such as low birth weight. It also does not consider avoided impacts of the oil and gas industry’s contribution to the climate crisis, for example heat deaths and wildfire smoke.”

Le Sierra Club Canada se réjouit du plafonnement des émissions, estime qu’il faut éliminer toutes échappatoires pour l’industrie (Version française)

L’organisation affirme qu’un plafond d’émissions rigoureux est une mesure fondamentale pour l’équité envers les Canadiens.

Déclaration aux médias : Pour diffusion immédiate le 7 décembre, 2023

Le Sierra Club Canada se réjouit de l’annonce d’un plafond de réduction des émissions de l’industrie pétrolière et gazière, mais affirme qu’il est encore possible de renforcer ce plafond afin qu’il s’aligne sur les objectifs nationaux de réduction des émissions. Sierra Club Canada affirme également qu’aucune échappatoire au plafonnement ne doit être accordée à l’industrie pétrolière et gazière et qu’elle se battra pour faire supprimer ces lacunes afin de garantir que le Canada dispose d’une réglementation efficace en matière de pollution climatique. Les lacunes principales actuelles sont les suivantes :

  • Le fait que le système de plafonnement et d’échange ne soit pas aussi efficaces que l’application directe.
  • Le fait qu’il ne s’agit que d’un simple cadre et qu’il est important que Trudeau agisse rapidement pour mettre en œuvre ce plafond bien avant 2026, puisque son gouvernement s’est engagé pour le faire au cours du mandat actuel.
  • Le fait d’obliger les entreprises à cotiser à ce fonds si elles dépassent leurs plafonds d’émissions ne devrait pas être considéré comme équivalent à une réduction réelle des émissions.
  • Il est également important que le gouvernement fédéral mette fin à sa « dépendance excessive » à l’égard des consultations avec l’industrie pétrolière et gazière, qui ont trop longtemps dominé la contribution à la politique climatique en dépit des appels des Canadiens en faveur d’un plafonnement

Les opposants du plafonnement ne font que contribuer à retarder une transition importante vers une économie renouvelable qui est vitale pour les travailleurs de provinces comme l’Alberta et Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, affirment-ils.

« Alors que les Canadiens ont du mal à joindre les deux bouts, l’industrie pétrolière et gazière affiche des bénéfices records tout en licenciant des travailleurs et en nous faisant manquer nos objectifs en matière de climat. Nous savons également que l’industrie des combustibles fossiles ne fera que le strict minimum requis par une réglementation et une application rigoureuses – cette réglementation doit donc être à toute épreuve », déclare Gretchen Fitzgerald, directrice des programmes nationaux au Sierra Club Canada. « Nos membres et nos sympathisants se sont battus avec acharnement pour obtenir cette politique et nous les remercions de leur soutien. Nous n’avons pas encore terminé, mais nous avons fait un pas de plus en matière de prévention des feux de forêt et des autres dérèglements climatiques, comme ceux qui ont causé tant de destructions au Canada l’été dernier. Mais le travail n’est pas terminé, l’industrie pétrolière et gazière ne doit pas être autorisée à retarder cette politique, comme elle l’a déjà fait à maintes reprises. »

L’organisation affirme que le plafonnement des émissions bénéficie d’un fort appui populaire et souligne qu’il s’agit d’une occasion pour les dirigeants politiques de créer un large consensus au sein de la population autour de l’action climatique au Canada. L’organisation reproche à l’industrie pétrolière et gazière de tenter de semer la division entre les Canadiens sur la question de l’action climatique, tout en faisant peser injustement sur chaque Canadien le coût de l’action climatique. Le Sierra Club Canada affirme que, sans un plafond strict, le « vide » laissé par l’industrie pétrolière et gazière, qui ne parvient pas à réduire ses émissions, devrait être comblé par les Canadiens si nous voulons atteindre nos objectifs nationaux de réduction des émissions.

« Selon deux sondages récents, soixante-dix pour cent des Canadiens souhaitent que l’industrie pétrolière et gazière soit soumise à un plafond d’émissions strict, y compris la majorité des Albertains », déclare Conor Curtis, responsable des communications au Sierra Club Canada. « On demande aux Canadiens de faire leur part pour limiter les émissions, et beaucoup d’entre eux sont heureux de le faire, mais il n’est que juste que les compagnies pétrolières et gazières principalement responsables de notre piètre bilan climatique fassent aussi leur part, surtout compte tenu des profits scandaleux qu’elles ont réalisés en ces temps autrement difficiles. »

L’organisation espère que cela ouvrira la voie à un nouveau renforcement du plafond d’émissions. Elle espère également que ce plafond mettra davantage l’accent sur la croissance de l’économie verte, qui, selon elle, est la seule voie économiquement viable pour le Canada, alors que l’industrie pétrolière et gazière connaît un déclin inévitable.


The Sierra Club Canada Foundation is a national registered charity that empowers people to be leaders in protecting, restoring and enjoying healthy and safe ecosystems.

An important note on referencing the Sierra Club Canada Foundation: There are three distinct Sierra Clubs: Sierra Club (in the United States), Sierra Club BC (in British Columbia), and Sierra Club Canada Foundation (operating nationally in Canada). While we often work together, these organizations are all separate legal entities. To be accurate, you should refer to our organization in articles or other coverage using the title “Sierra Club Canada” or “Sierra Club Canada Foundation.” Our organization, the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, also contains five chapters: Sierra Club Ontario, Sierra Club Québec, Sierra Club Atlantic Canada, Sierra Club Prairie, and Sierra Youth (which is nationwide).