Runaway oil and gas sector emissions undermining Canada’s climate progress, must be capped

OTTAWA | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE – With six weeks to go until the UN Climate Change Conference COP28, a coalition of leaders of Canada’s environmental organizations are calling on the Prime Minister to move forward with the government’s promised cap on oil and gas emissions.

The leaders of Canada’s largest environmental organizations wrote to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers reiterating that for Canada to meet its climate targets, introducing an emissions cap by the end of 2023 is essential.

The environmental leaders say the prime minister must stand firm against opposition from the oil and gas industry – and publish a regulation this fall to reign in runaway oil and gas emissions.

The proposed national climate policy aimed at Canada’s largest polluters – fossil fuels – is backed by the public, despite some regional and industry opposition. The majority of Canadians support an emissions cap on the fossil fuel industry:

  • Recent polling commissioned by Nature Quebec and Équiterre showed: 9 out of 10 Quebecers want oil and gas companies regulated because they won’t cut emissions on their own.
  • Recent polling commissioned by CAPE showed: 60 per cent of Albertans want the oil industry regulated nationally with a cap on emissions. Support in Alberta is strongest – at 76 per cent – among youth.
  • National-level polling from May 2023 commissioned by CAN-Rac showed: Two in three Canadians (64%) believe the oil and gas industry should be required to limit emissions so that Canada can meet its climate goals.

The oil and gas sector is Canada’s highest-polluting industry, accounting for more than a quarter of the country’s total emissions (which doesn’t include downstream emissions – i.e., when the fuels are burned). Without a cap, these emissions are only set to rise on a trajectory that is incompatible with meeting Canada’s 2030 climate targets.

The Climate Institute of Canada’s analysis of the most recent emissions data found that rising emissions from the oil and gas sector undercut progress in other sectors.

Executives of the fossil fuel industry were questioned on Parliament Hill this week on its commitment to a net-zero future. Suncor Chief Executive Officer Richard Kruger testified before MPs after concerns were raised about the company’s commitment to profits over all else despite rising emissions and a pivot away from renewables.


Severn Cullis-Suzuki, executive director, David Suzuki Foundation, said:

“The runaway fossil fuel industry must be reined in to protect the planet and all life on it. There are currently no limits on the amount of pollution Canada’s oil and gas industry can produce. As fossil fuel executives continue to focus on profit over people and planet, it’s clear the federal government’s role is to step in. The majority of Canadians support limiting this industry’s harmful pollution – it’s time our climate policies reflect what Canadians really want, expect and deserve.”

Tracy London, executive director, Ecojustice, said:

“Canada has failed to meet any of the emission reduction targets it has set in the past and is not on track to meet its 2030 target. A strong federal cap on oil and gas emissions is an opportunity to change this trajectory. The federal government must not allow the fossil fuel industry to endanger people and the planet from rising carbon pollution. The oil and gas sector cannot be allowed to put its own profits ahead of the safety of our communities. Following the recent ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada, which potentially drastically curtails the federal government’s ability to use environmental assessments to help achieve its climate goals, it is even more important that it makes best use of the tools still available to it. A cap on oil and gas emissions is both constitutionally solid, and absolutely essential to maintaining Canada’s climate credibility on the world stage. The federal government must table a strong and effective emissions cap on oil and gas, and demonstrate to the world at COP28 that Canada can be a genuine climate leader.”

Brenna Walsh, senior energy coordinator, Ecology Action Centre, said:

“Pro-industry voices like to claim that regulating the oil and gas industry will hit Canadians in the pocket-book, but this simply isn’t true. In fact, most often, the opposite is true. Since fossil fuel prices are set in global markets, a cap on emissions will not impact domestic prices for gasoline or affordability. Limiting fossil fuel emissions is a clear win for us all. Industry should be focused on making smart business decisions, positioning our economy for success over the long-term – by becoming leaders in clean, affordable, renewable energy and powering the economy with electricity – not anchoring us to an industry that is only poised to decline.”

Tim Gray, executive director, Environmental Defence, said:

“The federal government promised the oil and gas emissions cap to the world two years ago at COP26. With COP28 mere weeks away, we need more than words and good intentions. We need the government to do the right thing: put in place an emissions cap in line with Canada’s climate targets and lock in a historic climate policy win. A strong emissions cap will provide much needed emissions reductions in a sector that has failed to act.”

Colleen Thorpe, executive director, Équiterre, said:

“Voluntary approaches have never worked with the fossil fuel sector, which is why a strong, quickly implemented emissions cap regulation is a key piece of the puzzle to a fast and fair energy transition in Canada. Recent statements by members of this industry indicate that this action is more important than ever before. Canadians from coast to coast see through this irresponsible and dangerous spin and know oil companies will not reduce their emissions on their own.”

Liz McDowell, senior campaigns director, Stand.Earth, said:

“We can’t afford any more delays. We know pressure from industry lobbyists and industry-beholden politicians like Premier Danielle Smith – who have no real plans to act on climate – is slowing progress on this key climate policy. But those voices don’t represent the views or the best intentions of Canadians. The fact remains that the majority of Canadians support limiting the fossil fuel industry’s emissions.”

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Signatories (alphabetical):

  • Canadian Environmental Law Association
  • David Suzuki Foundation
  • Ecojustice
  • Ecology Action Centre
  • Environmental Defence
  • Équiterre
  • Greenpeace Canada
  • Nature Canada
  • Pembina Institute
  • Sierra Club Foundation
  • West Coast Environmental Law
  • WWF Canada

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:

West Coast Environmental Law – Alexis Stoymenoff,, 604-684-7378 ext. 228 

David Suzuki Foundation – Melanie Karalis,, 548-588-1279

Environmental Defence – Allen Braude,, 416-356-2587