A report issued by the Pembina Institute shows that rising GHG emissions from Alberta’s oil sands conflict with Canada’s 2030 and 2050 climate commitments.
The oil sands in a carbon-constrained Canada: The collision course between overall emissions and national climate commitments, also shows how governments and industry can help ensure the oil industry remains competitive as it works to improve its carbon performance.
Pembina acknowledges that industry has worked to cut the emissions intensity of its products, however, overall emissions are rising, making the sector the fastest-growing source of emissions in Canada.
“Meeting national climate commitments comes down to a question of drastically reducing absolute emissions,” said Benjamin Israel, Senior Analyst at Pembina Institute.
Israel adds “The oil sands’ competitiveness will depend on the ability to rapidly implement meaningful policy changes and deploy breakthrough innovation – beyond incremental improvements – that will dramatically lower Canada’s oil sands emissions intensity to the low end of the global oil supply curve.”
According to Pembina Institute, the report used the best available research and data to clearly outline carbon intensity differences across the sector.
It also highlights that more carbon-intense crudes will be at risk of being stranded as the demand for less carbon-intensive sources of oil grows.
Chris Severson-Baker, Alberta Regional Director with Pembina said “Our recommendations will help the sector decarbonize to remain attractive to investors and help Canada meet climate commitments.”
Report recommendations for the federal and Alberta governments include:
- Establish strong regulations to decarbonize the industry;
- Define and enforce sector emissions targets for 2030 and 2050, with five-year increments;
- Support an innovation ecosystem to deliver breakthrough technologies, funded by industry;
- Improve emissions monitoring and reporting to produce coherent data and enhance transparency;
- Appoint transparent and independent energy regulators both federally and provincially, with the mandate to enforce regulations and capacity to follow through.
Simon Dyer, Executive Director with Pembina Institute said “The global problem of climate change is too complex for any of us to solve alone. We urgently need to work together to prepare Canada to compete in a low-carbon economy.”
Despite these improvements in carbon intensity, data shows absolute carbon emissions from the oil sands continue to increase overall, and could represent 22 per cent of Canada’s carbon budget in 2030.
Studies reviewed for the report consistently show that oil sands products are more carbon intensive than lighter, more conventional oil sources.