Leona Aglukkaq's UN climate speech doesn't mention oil and gas emissions

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a speech to the UN on Tuesday that Canada is taking action to reduce greenhouse gases in the transportation and electricity sectors, but made no mention of regulations in the oil and gas sectors, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

Environment minister speaks to UN about need for commitment from all major economies

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq speaks at the UN Climate Summit at the United Nations in New York Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq says Canada is taking action to reduce greenhouse gases in the transportation and electricity sectors ahead of the next climate change conference in Paris in 2015, but made no mention of regulations in the oil and gas sectors, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

"We are not waiting to act. We are taking decisive action to ensure Canada remains a leader and contributes its part to this global cause," Aglukkaq said in her speech to the UN climate summit on Tuesday.

"As we get closer to 2015, I am confident we can achieve a final agreement, but it will require courage and common sense. And it is crucial any new agreement contain commitments from all major economies and major emitters."

In an interview with CBC News ahead of her speech to the UN, Aglukkaq said "Canada is doing its part" by reducing greenhouse gases in two sectors of the economy.

"What we've moved on is the two largest emitters in Canada related to the electricity sector as well as the transportation sector."

But in a report to the UN in April, Environment Canada's own numbers showed that oil and gas production accounted for 25 per cent of the country's greenhouse gas emissions in 2012, the largest source of of GHG emissions in the country.

The transportation sector has dropped to a close second, accounting for 24 per cent of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions, while the electricity sector accounts for 12 per cent.

"We have moved forward in addressing the largest greenhouse gas emitters and that's in the transportation sector as well as the electricity sector," repeated Aglukkaq.

​​Canada has yet to bring in regulations for the oil and gas sectors, despite a promise to do so by the end of 2012.

Oil and gas regulations pending

In her speech to the UN, Agglukaq said that on the domestic front Canada has taken action in the transportation sector, which accounts for "nearly one-quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions" and in the electricity sector where Canada has implemented "stringent new coal-fired electricity standards.

But Aglukkaq made no mention of the country's oil and gas sectors.

She said Canada was also taking "decisive action" on the international stage through the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and its efforts to reduce pollutants.

"This work is especially important to Canada, as short-lived climate pollutants profoundly impact the North. Scientists tell us that strong global action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants can avoid up to two-thirds of projected warming in the Arctic between now and 2050."

Aglukkaq, who is also the chair of the Arctic Council, said more than 100 groups have joined the coalition in the past two years.

"This signals that more than ever, people have decided that now is the time for everyone to do their part."

Agglukkaq also announced Canada's intention to further reduce hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, powerful greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air-conditioning.

On Monday, Aglukkaq announced that new emissions regulations for light passenger vehicles first announced two years ago will come into force on Oct. 8, bringing the country's auto sector in line with regulations already announced by the U.S.

She also announced Canada intends to further regulate fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles, as well as draft new regulations around smog emissions from cars and the amount of sulphur allowed in gasoline​.

The Opposition New Democrats say Canada is going to the summit "empty handed" because some of the regulations being made public today were first announced two years ago.

Harper attends leaders dinner

Unlike U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders, Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not attend the UN's climate summit. But on Tuesday evening in New York, Harper attended a dinner hosted by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with 20 other key leaders. 

Harper's office said in a statement that "the dinner provided an opportunity for leaders to discuss their visions to maintain momentum towards the successful conclusion of a new climate change agreement in 2015."

The statement said Harper "emphasized Canada's commitment to achieving a strong and effective global climate agreement in Paris next year that includes meaningful commitments by all major emitters."

With files from CBC's Margo McDiarmid