Canadian oil and gas sector not responding to climate change: Study

Canadian oil and gas sector not responding to climate change: Study

The vast majority of Canadian oil and gas companies are not ready to operate in a more environmentally-friendly atmosphere, according to a recent study.

The Ethical Funds Company, a Vancouver-based mutual funds manager dedicated to socially-responsible mutual funds, published a study March 13 indicating that only two of 48 Canadian oil and gas producers analysed were “well-positioned to function in a more carbon-neutral environment.”

Bob Walker, The Ethical Funds Company’s vice-president of sustainability, says with the growing trend of moving from natural gas power to renewable energy sources – such as wind power – companies lacking a solid environmental policy will be left behind unless they change their ways.

Walker underscores that companies building refineries today need to be considering how their operation will fit into the market’s future. Companies who choose to buck the trend could be setting themselves up for disaster, he warns.

“Without responding to the challenges of climate change, these companies may be among the walking dead,” Walker tells Axiom News. “(Oil and gas companies) should begin to incorporate the loss of carbon into today’s capital allocation decisions.”

The study considered each company’s management systems, action plans, performance and transparency, to evaluate whether or not companies were prepared to function with fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the study – entitled Head in the Oil Sands? – only Shell Canada and Suncor have responded accordingly to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Shell Canada has focused on energy efficiency in its greenhouse gas emission management plans. This factor helped the company score well in the study, says company spokesperson Janet Rowley. Rowley notes that Shell Canada is looking to make investments to research technology, new products and alternate energies.


Additionally, Rowley says Shell has two voluntary projects on the go.

The first: “For our oil products and exploration and production businesses, our target is to be six per cent below our 1990 emissions level by 2008,” she says.

Secondly: “For our original Athabasca oil sands project, our target is to cut emissions by 50 per cent below those estimated at project start up by 2010,” she states.

Walker says he hopes companies which have not met the mark to lower greenhouse emissions will take the study’s results to heart.

“We hope the Canadian oil and gas sector will use this report to unite in a process to stabilize emissions, achieve carbon neutrality and, in the decade to come, make the transition to a carbon-free energy system,” he states in a March 13 press release.

The study offers 11 findings. Highlights of the report include:

• Although several global leading companies are involved in Canada’s oil patch, the majority have not reduced greenhouse emissions.

• The majority of oil and gas companies analysed are prepared to assess the threat of climate change. However, most companies do not have action plans.

• Only three Canadian oil companies have made significant investments in renewable energy: Husky by using biofuels, and Nexen and Suncor, by using wind power.

• With the exception of the top performers, companies analysed in the study failed to keep inventories of greenhouse gas emissions.

• Only 13 of the 48 companies analysed disclosed emission reports to the public.

Writer Bio

Deron Hamel's picture
Deron Hamel

Deron joined Axiom News in March 2007, having previously worked as a news reporter for print, online and wire services. He serves as Axiom News’ long-term care pod lead, after several years of writing stories and editorials for our clients in that sector. An award-winning advocacy journalist, Deron has seen first-hand the strengths long-term care brings to the greater health-care sector and through his work he seeks to share successes and best practices.

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