GHG Emissions

Canada’s oil and natural gas industry produces 0.3 per cent of overall global GHG emissions.

Canada’s natural gas industry works to reduce air emissions associated with exploration and production. Air management in Canada is a shared responsibility of the provincial and federal governments. The focus for air management is on air emissions, including greenhouse gases, pollutants and odours.

Industry is finding solutions to meet Canada's commitment to reduce methane emissions. A recent article in Context delves into some of the technologies that have been implemented by industry.

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Other emissions

While natural gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, our industry does emit GHGs through fuel combustion and other operational processes such as flaring. Natural gas production also emits particulate matter such as nitrogen oxide (NOx), a by-product of fuel combustion emitted during activities such as firing of engines for gas compression and power generation, and flaring. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is also emitted from operations that produce and process raw natural gas containing hydrogen sulphide.

Recognizing that the upstream oil and natural gas industry is the largest source of methane emissions in Alberta, under the Alberta Climate Leadership plan, the government announced a methane emission reduction target of 45 per cent by 2025. Implementation of new methane standards will be led by the Alberta Energy Regulator, in collaboration with Alberta Energy and the Alberta Climate Change Office.

Monitoring and reporting

Canada’s natural gas industry reports GHG emissions each year as required. Reporting is done via Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Single Window system – a central web tool shared with provincial partners that streamlines national and provincial reporting.

Electricity generated from natural gas helps reduce GHG emissions

Natural gas can play an important role in reducing Canada’s GHG emissions. For example, the electricity sector’s emissions dropped from 118 megatonnes in 2000 to 70 megatonnes in 2014 as plants switched from coal to natural gas. Electricity powered by natural gas is forecasted to increase from 15 per cent in 2014 to 24 per cent in 2040 and coal will be reduced from seven per cent to 3 per cent. For every 1,000 MW of coal- fired power generation converted to natural power generation, annual CO2 equivalent emissions are reduced by 4.4 million tonnes or just over one half of one per cent of Canada's total (Source: CAPP).