OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Tuesday it would be crazy for Canada to impose regulations on the oil and gas industry to reduce greenhouse gases without simultaneous action from the United States, given the steep decline in oil prices.
“Under the current circumstances in the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy, it would be crazy economic policy to do unilateral penalties on that sector. We’re clearly not going to do it,” Harper told Parliament.
He said it was important to do oil and gas regulations “on a continental basis given the integrated nature of this industry.”
It was the government’s clearest indication that no action should be expected without comparable moves south of the border.
The environment ministry said on Monday Canada had no chance of meeting its 2020 target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels unless it took further steps.
Harper also repeated on Tuesday that he opposed a carbon tax.
“The prime minister confirmed that he is in fact breaking his promise to regulate the oil and gas sector,” New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Megan Leslie said during the daily Question Period in the House of Commons.
Harper said Canada had integrated its transport sector regulation with the United States. It had also gone farther than the United States on the electricity sector and was happy to work together to regulate the oil and gas industry.
Environmental group Greenpeace noted the U.S. administration had already adopted air pollution regulations that have helped to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector and urged Canada do more to combat climate change.
“The Harper government has no excuse for not moving on what is now the largest source of heat-trapping gases in the country,” Greenpeace climate campaign coordinator Keith Stewart said.
Harper said the Conservative commitment was “to reduce greenhouse emissions while preserving, protecting and growing Canadian jobs. ... We’re not going to kill jobs.”
Canada’s oil and gas industry has boomed in recent years but is being jeopardized by sharply lower energy prices.
Brent oil LCOc1 prices ended higher on Tuesday after hitting a five-year low and five straight days of losses and U.S. crude CLc1 also rose as players sought a sustainable price for oil in a market haunted by oversupply concerns. [O/R]
Editing by Diane Craft, Andre Grenon, Jeffrey Hodgson and James Dalgleish