Canada oil sector faces 'significant challenges' to reduce emissions

May 4, 2018
A Canadian Senate report says the biggest challenge for the country's oil industry will be remaining competitive and encouraging investment while facing increasingly stringent emissions reduction requirements

Canada's oil industry faces "significant challenges" in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which account for 26 percent of local emissions, but cuts are "essential" for meeting climate agreement targets, the Senate said Friday.

The conclusion of the Senate report echoed others published by it and the auditor general, which have been critical of Canada's efforts to meet its Paris target of slashing by 30 percent compared with 2005 levels by 2030.

"The biggest challenges facing the industry will be to remain competitive and to encourage investment while facing increasingly tough emissions-reduction requirements," said the report.

The oil and gas sector employed 700,000 people directly and indirectly, and accounted for 7.7 percent of Canada's in 2015, equivalent to Can$142 billion in economic activity.

The Senate committee studying Canada's transition to a low-carbon economy noted that the oil and gas sector released 189 megatonnes of in 2015.

Under current projections, Canada is on track to emit 722 megatonnes of equivalent per year by 2030—far more than its target of 523 megatonnes.

The Senate cited a September 2017 auditor general's report that slammed years of inertia for leaving the nation vulnerable to climate change, saying: "Canada has failed to achieve every emission target it has set since 1992."

These included reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2000 (Rio Earth summit), six percent below 1990 levels by 2012 (Kyoto Protocol), and 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 (Copenhagen Accord).

At the same time, temperatures in Canada have risen at approximately double the global rate, resulting in the loss of Arctic sea ice and permafrost, affecting wildlife and ecosystems.

Ottawa unveiled a plan last year to backstop regional measures to cut with a national carbon tax.

It set a minimum carbon price starting this year at Can$10 per tonne and rising each year to a maximum of Can$50 in 2022.

Currently four provinces—Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec—representing more than 80 percent of the population, have carbon pricing or cap-and-trade schemes. Almost all of the others have carbon pricing schemes in the works.

Ottawa would only step in to top up provincial efforts that do not meet the federal standard.

Explore further: Canada to miss 2020 climate target: audit

Related Stories

Canada to miss 2020 climate target: audit

March 27, 2018

Canada will likely miss a 2020 interim carbon emissions reduction target and will need to take strong measures if it further hopes to meet its Paris agreement commitment, said an audit released Tuesday.

Canada revises upward CO2 emission data since 1990

April 18, 2015

Canada revised its greenhouse gas emission data from 1990 to 2013 in a report Friday, showing it had higher carbon dioxide discharges each year, and a doubling of emissions from its oil sands.

Canada cuts CO2 emissions, but misses target

April 12, 2012

Canada's greenhouse gas emissions fell steadily from a peak in 2007 to 692 megatons in 2010, but remain far above its original target, according to government data released Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Antarctic ice shelf 'sings' as winds whip across its surface

October 16, 2018

Winds blowing across snow dunes on Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf cause the massive ice slab's surface to vibrate, producing a near-constant set of seismic "tones" scientists could potentially use to monitor changes in the ice ...

New understanding of Mekong River incision

October 16, 2018

An international team of earth scientists has linked the establishment of the Mekong River to a period of major intensification of the Asian monsoon during the middle Miocene, about 17 million years ago, findings that supplant ...

World Heritage sites threatened by sea level rise

October 16, 2018

From Venice and the tower of Pisa to the medieval city of Rhodes, dozens of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Mediterranean basin are deeply threatened by rising sea levels, researchers warned Tuesday.

Was life on the early Earth purple?

October 16, 2018

Early life forms on Earth may have been able to generate metabolic energy from sunlight using a purple-pigmented molecule called retinal that possibly predates the evolution of chlorophyll and photosynthesis. If retinal has ...

New interactive scenario explorer for 1.5 degrees C pathways

October 16, 2018

IIASA and the Integrated Assessment Modeling Consortium (IAMC) have made the scenarios underlying last week's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5°C Special Report publicly available in an interactive online ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.