Economic recovery,innovation,emissions intensity,climate action

COMMENTARY: Catching up to Canada’s climate leadership

Canada’s natural gas and oil industry is demonstrating global leadership in environment, social and governance (ESG) performance.

When it comes to climate policy and environmental protection, Canada is already a leader and many nations around the world need to catch up.

For example, in April 2021 U.S. President Joe Biden announced a federal climate plan with the goal to decarbonize the U.S. power sector by 2035 and to create a path to a net-zero economy by 2050.

Canada’s already there. Our power supply is two-thirds non-emitting, we are the only country in the world that has maintained an aggressive legislated target to reduce methane emissions, and we are one of few oil exporting nations with a price on carbon.

Canada’s natural gas and oil industry is also looking toward a lower-emissions future. In the oil sands, average greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) per barrel have dropped 21 per cent since 2009 – and with current technologies under development, further reductions of 20 to 27 per cent are projected by 2030, demonstrating production growth can be compatible with emissions reductions. It’s also notable that the crude oil produced offshore Newfoundland and Labrador is among the lowest carbon intensive crudes in the world.

Biden’s proposed investment in emerging and green energy sources and technologies — including hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) — provides an opportunity for Canadian cleantech companies and innovators, and our upstream natural gas and oil producers.

The industry is the foundation of Canada’s growing clean technology industry. According to a study conducted for the Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN), Canadian companies spend about $1.4 billion a year on clean technology investments – and 75 per cent of that comes from the natural gas and oil industry. This fact was also echoed in recent research from the Harvard Business School, which recognized that traditional energy companies are some of the most prolific and influential producers of green innovation.

Canada is an oil and natural gas innovation leader

Global demand for energy is growing and with improved market access Canada can help fill that demand with responsible energy products. The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects demand for natural gas will increase 30 per cent by 2040, driven by increasing energy demand, but also because natural gas is a complement to renewables for power generation. The benefits of natural gas can be seen in the U.S.: from 2015 to 2019, the majority of U.S. GHG reduction was the result of switching from coal to cleaner natural gas fired electricity.

Canada is in a position to help enable this shift globally, by providing reliable and affordable liquefied natural gas (LNG) to new and emerging world economies where other sources of energy could be displaced.

One of Canada’s strengths in energy is our track record for innovation, environmental performance, and continuous improvement in reducing emissions intensity. The IEA recognizes Canada as a leader in climate action and our strengths make us a clear choice as a stable supplier of affordable and responsibly produced energy.

Canada’s natural gas and oil industry will continue to invest in innovation, advancing national and industry goals of a cleaner-energy future where Canadian oil and natural gas play an important role providing the affordable, lower-emission energy that the world needs.

The opportunity is there and it’s a strategy that can help Canada achieve two of its highest priorities – climate action and economic recovery.