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Capture and use images ;methane emissions from landfills is necessary, says expert

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Methane emissions from Canada's waste sector accounted for 14% of total emissions in Canada in 2021. (File photo)

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Canada should do more to limit methane emissions from landfills, according to a University of Calgary report released Wednesday.

Jennifer Winter, author of the report from the School of Public Policy at the University of Alberta, emphasizes that the framework proposed by the federal government to reduce these emissions is a crucial first step, but that more must be done to achieve the set objectives.

Last April, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) published the first draft of the draft regulatory framework (New window) and invited interested parties to provide their comments. Jennifer Winter was quick to respond the following month.

I think the biggest policy gap right now is that the majority of landfills in Canada are only regulated for safety reasons, she explains.

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Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that is produced when biodegradable waste such as food and paper is disposed of in landfills. In sufficient concentrations, the gas can cause fire and is also toxic to humans.

Jennifer Winter says the currently proposed regulations aim to ensure the controls methane emissions, but does not aim to reduce methane releases into the atmosphere.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas [and] landfills are a major source of methane emissions in Canada, she points out.

Jennifer Winter suggests that regulations be imposed on all landfills, instead of only on landfills. The document also notes the need to study current regulatory inconsistency.

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Jennifer Winter, professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, says the proposed federal regulatory framework, if improved, will help the country achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. (File photo)

The differences in regulations for the waste treatment sector between provinces and territories are significant, explains Jennifer Winter. p>

The author states that this inconsistency can be remedied by including in the definition of landfills those that are not covered by the pricing systems of large emitters in the provinces or territories.

This federal policy could provide consistency in how we address the problem of methane emissions from landfills .

A quote from Jennifer Winter, Associate Professor at the University of Calgary

According to her, another problem with the draft ECCC regulatory framework is that it is based on thresholds. She therefore proposes the creation of a cost-benefit analysis based on the damages caused by methane emissions compared to the cost of regulation and the cost of compliance.

Although the proposed regulatory framework is only one piece of the puzzle, it is part of a national solution to meet the targets set by the Glasgow Climate Pact and the net-zero goal. by 2050.

To do this, Jennifer Winter explains that the proposed legal framework must create measures to encourage landfill operators to reduce their methane emissions and prioritize capture and use activities.

We also have growing evidence that we are underestimating methane emissions from this sector, she explains. The same problem occurs in the oil and gas sector.

In 2021, methane emissions from the waste sector in Canada accounted for 14% of emissions total, an increase of 11% since 1990.

Jennifer Winter points out that Alberta's current policies in this area could actually give the province a head start.

x27;Alberta has policies in place to combat emissions from landfills and also has an offset credit market for emissions from these sites, she adds. In this sense, Alberta will be able to more easily comply with the [future framework].

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