Did you know? Average emissions per Canadian barrel of oil have been going down for more than 10 years. And the oil sands is on track to reduce total emissions in the next five years.
Canada is also a leader in reducing methane emissions. While worldwide methane emissions have been increasing overall, Canada's methane emissions are falling – even as our oil production has increased.
$1 billion invested in cleantech annually
Canada’s oil and gas sector invests about $1 billion annually on research and development to make our operations cleaner. One major area we're working on is carbon capture and storage technology. Canada is a global leader in carbon capture and storage. Since 2000, carbon-capture projects in Canada have safely stored more than 44 million tonnes of CO2. That's the equivalent of taking over 9 million cars off the road. And in the coming years, several major new carbon-capture projects are expected to come online.
Our oil and gas industry is also at the forefront of alternative fuels such as hydrogen and small-scale nuclear.
Targeting Net Zero by 2050
Net Zero Emissions by 2050
The six largest companies in Canada's oil sands industry, representing 95% of the market, are working together to reach net zero emissions in their operations by 2050. This will mainly be done through carbon capture and storage – technology that is already in use in Canada, and which experts agree is a necessary tool in combatting climate change.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
Canada is one of only a few countries in the world with commercial-scale CCS operations. Major projects include the Quest CCS project, as well as the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line, the world’s largest CO2 transportation system, which is expected to expand storage between now and 2050. With CCS, carbon emissions are stored deep underground, where they will remain permanently trapped and out of the atmosphere.
Carbon conversion and utilization
Promising new technologies are also being developed in Canada not just to capture but also to use CO2. Emissions can be captured on site at, say, a natural-gas power plant; that captured CO2 is then embedded in products like concrete. This not only reduces emissions from the original site – it also reduces the carbon footprint of the recipient product (the concrete).
Natural gas: a cleaner alternative to coal
The global opportunity
Natural gas is the cleanest-burning carbon-based fuel. And Canada has a lot of it. In fact, we have more than we need. Canada is poised to be an important exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), to meet energy demands in Asia and other global markets.
Natural gas emits only half the amount of CO2 as coal. So, the more LNG that Canada can export to countries like China and India, the more we can help reduce their dependence on coal.
In our own backyard
Canada's natural gas is also a clean-burning solution to meet our own energy needs. For many people, it's the fuel that heats our homes in winter, and that keeps the lights on all year round.
Today, natural gas accounts for just over one-third of Canada's energy mix. But the majority of natural gas consumed in Ontario and Quebec is actually imported from other countries. We could be doing more to secure our own energy needs and independence – and to rely less on foreign energy supplies.
The transition to alternative energy is decades away
Oil and gas together make up the biggest share of global energy consumption. Use of renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, is on the rise. But it will be many decades until renewables and other alternative energy sources can make a substantial difference replacing oil and gas. In 2050, oil and gas is expected to make up about the same share of our energy mix as today – half – with renewables taking more of the share from coal.
There's no question that alternative and renewable energy sources are part of our future. But the fact is that oil and gas is still a critical part of how we're going to meet our growing energy needs – today and for decades to come. And Canadian oil and gas is an abundant and responsibly produced source of reliable energy that Canada, the U.S., and the rest of the world needs.
1Includes solar, wind, hydro, bioenergy
2Includes nuclear, biomass
*Figures may not add up to 100 due to rounding
By the Numbers
Oil sands producers have reduced emissions per barrel by 22% over the past decade (from 2011 to 2019)
In the next 5 years, we are on track to see reductions in total emissions from the oil sands – not just reductions in intensity. (Source: IHS Markit)
Since 2000, carbon capture and storage solutions in Canada have removed over 40 million tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of taking more than 9 million cars off the road.
Since 2009, oil sands producers have planted more than 25 million trees and reclaimed nearly 8,000 hectares of land. In total, only 0.03% of Canada’s boreal forest has been disturbed by oil and gas activities.