When we talk about government action on climate change in Canada people often want to know, why do we put so much focus on reducing emissions from the oil and gas industry?
The oil and gas sector produces more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than any other sector of the Canadian economy. Even the transportation sector, which includes shipping of food and goods, personal and public vehicle emissions, and aviation emissions (all almost entirely run on fossil fuels) produces less GHG emissions than the oil and gas sector. 21 million tonnes less. That’s equivalent to an additional 4.4 million cars on the road for a year or 80 billion kilometres of driving (check out more equivalents – input 21,000,000 into the CO2 emissions bar as metric tons).
It is also important to note that total oil and gas emission numbers – 192 million tonnes a year in 2014 – don’t account for the end use emissions of the fossil fuels but are specifically the emissions produced by the initial extraction and refining of the product.
So why the fuss over oil and gas?
Well, it’s because of the sheer volume of emissions they produce even before they are used. If Canada can significantly reduce our oil and gas emissions, it will make a substantial contribution to keeping global temperatures below 1.5-2ᵒC of warming.