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Canada can beat its new methane goals with biogas and RNG

November 18, 2021

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While we continue to dissect the results of the UN’s 26th climate summit, there is one issue on which everyone agrees critical progress has been made: methane emissions.

Whereas only 13 countries were committed to methane reductions prior to the summit, the new Global Methane Pledge now has 105 countries, including Canada, promising to cut their methane emissions 30% by 2030.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, trapping 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide over the short term and contributing to about one quarter of all global warming to date. That is to say, a major problem.

But methane is also a major opportunity. Every tonne of methane from organic sources is equal to one tonne of clean energy potential through biogas and Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). Thousands of biogas and RNG projects worldwide are already capturing this opportunity. More are possible. Of the world’s existing human-caused methane emissions, 27% could be prevented through biogas and RNG according to the World Biogas Association.

In Canada, that number is higher, with 28.5% of our methane emissions (as reported in Canada’s 2021 National Inventory Report) preventable through new biogas and RNG projects.

In other words, biogas and RNG could potentially get Canada 90% of the way towards its newly pledged methane reductions.

Canada’s methane sources1 (with potential biogas sources highlighted):

  • Oil and Gas: 37%
  • Agriculture (Enteric Fermentation): 25%
  • Landfills: 24%
  • Agriculture (Waste): 4%
  • Energy production: 4%
  • Other waste: 3%
  • Forestry and Land Use: 0.6%
  • Wastewater: 0.5%
Pie Charts of Canada's Methane Sources and Potential Sources

The methane emissions highlighted above are routine feedstocks for biogas and RNG projects. In fact, Canada is already home to 279 such projects that capture a total of roughly 2 Megatonnes of methane2. And there is opportunity for much more. The CBA’s 2020 Market Report calculates that Canada has about 8 times more biogas and RNG potential.

The Canadian government is rightfully concerned about methane leaks in the Oil and Gas sector as a key opportunity to reach its new goal. But let’s also be sure to fully support biogas and RNG opportunities that reduce and repurpose methane from landfills, agricultural waste and wastewater. Together, these opportunities could help Canada overachieve on a major international climate commitment.

2Based on 5 billion m3 of biogas generated and captured in Canada, and assuming 60% methane content and 0.656 kg/m3 methane density