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CALGARY — Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan says Canada will join the U.S. in establishing a platform for oil and gas producing countries to figure out how the sector can support implementing the Paris agreement on climate change and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Dubbed the Net-Zero Producers Forum, it is intended to develop emission reduction strategies and would include Canada, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States, collectively accounting for about 40 per cent of global oil and gas production.

It is to discuss ways to reduce methane emissions, advance the circular carbon economy, develop and deploy clean-energy and carbon capture, use and storage technologies and diversify economies from reliance on hydrocarbon revenues.

The forum is being developed in parallel to the Leaders’ Summit on Climate hosted virtually by U.S. President Joe Biden this week.

Biden announced Thursday that the U.S. would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 per cent compared with 2005 levels by 2030 and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed Canada would slash its GHGs by 40 to 45 per cent over the same period. The targets were called “extremely aggressive” by Precision Drilling Corp. CEO Kevin Neveu.

On Friday, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland defended Canada’s higher target in a presentation to the Canadian Club in Toronto, saying that while the energy sector is very important to Canada, it has to be part of the climate change solution because “that’s where the emissions are.”

O’Regan said the world is increasing climate ambitions and Canada will lead the way.

“We have hundreds of thousands of workers who know how to build energy infrastructure, and they’ll be the ones to lower emissions and build our clean energy future,” O’Regan said in a statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2021.

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