GHG Emissions

Canada’s oil sands industry continues to reduce GHG emissions intensity. Oil sands account for 9.8 per cent of Canada's GHG emissions.

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is an important global issue. Specifically for the oil and gas industry, our challenge is to reduce GHG emissions while the demand for energy – and the amount of energy the world is consuming – is growing. Work is in progress on a variety of new technologies to lower GHG emissions and capture and store CO2.

Oil sands and GHGs

Canada, with 0.5 per cent of the world's population, produces about two per cent of global CO2 emissions. Oil sands account for 9.3 per cent of Canada's GHG emissions and about 0.16 per cent of global GHG emissions.

Body Environmental Innovation Air Global Emissions vs Canada Emissions

Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017 & World Resources Institute 2013

Life cycle analysis, sometimes called wells-to wheels, estimates the amount of GHG emissions associated with the entire life of a product. For petroleum fuels, this includes crude oil production, transport, refining, refined product transport and ultimately combusting the fuel in a vehicle. When GHG emissions are viewed on a wells-to-wheels basis, emissions released during the combustion of fuel (such as gasoline or diesel) make up 70 to 80 per cent of total emissions.

Full cycle GHG emissions oil sands and U.S. refined crudes

In oil sands mining, energy is required to transport the sands, break it down into smaller pieces and to heat the water used to separate the oil from the sand. Energy is also required to generate the steam that gets injected in drilling recovery methods. Other energy-intensive processes include producing the hydrogen needed to upgrade heavy crude. All these steps release GHGs into the atmosphere – a contributing factor to climate change. The majority of GHG emissions are released at the end-user stage when consumers use oil for heat, electricity, fuel and other important products.

Climate Policy

Action on climate change can be achieved through the creation of emissions-reducing innovation and technology, and effective government policy across Canada. Alongside the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and B.C., Alberta’s provincial policy will build on the province’s oil and natural gas industry’s ongoing commitment to environmental performance and emissions reductions.

  • Phasing out goal-generated electricity and developing more renewable energy.
  • Implementing new carbon price on greenhouse gas pollution
  • A legislated oil sands emission limit
  • Employing a new methane emission reduction plan

Learn more about Alberta's Climate Plan.

Companies are investing more than $1.33 billion collectively into developing new technologies to improve environmental performance through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance. Read more about oil sands commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.