The industry notes that less than 1 percent of global emissions come from the oil sands. In June 2015 the reduction targets were strengthened so that facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year will have to reduce their emissions intensity by 20 percent per barrel by 2017. "Three hectares is a drop in a bucket.". Recent independent studies have shown oil sands emissions are similar to a number of crudes, both heavy and light, imported and refined in the EU, in particular when emissions created by flaring and venting practices are considered.

Even so, the industry and the government of Alberta have invested heavily in land reclamation amid outcry against industrial "tailings ponds" of waste at oil sands facilities. A new finding comes amid a debate about the carbon footprint of the oil sands generally. "The bottom line," Liggio said, "is we still have more work to do in terms of really determining how much is being emitted.". Tiffany Stecker writes about climate change, agriculture and forestry for ClimateWire in Washington, DC and prefers red potatoes to Yukon Gold. Previous studies have vastly underestimated the carbon footprint of the Canadian oil sands by not considering the industry's impact on peatlands, according to new research.

But "they can get a small carbon sink, which is better than nothing. Extracting bitumen and other heavy crude oil requires more energy than the production of lighter and more accessible forms of crude oil. The shift from peatlands to uplands also has a long-term effect.

"You need to know type of fuel combusted, because different fuels use more or less carbon.

Emissions …

Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted. According to data from U.S. Energy Information Administration coal-fired power plants make up about one-quarter of the United States’ (U.S.) GHG emissions, and in 2013, these emissions were 26 times greater than emissions from the oil sands.

In 2007 Alberta became the first jurisdiction in North America to have mandatory GHG emission reduction targets for large emitters across all sectors. All countries, governments, Indigenous peoples, as well as civil society, business and individuals will have to be mobilized in order to achieve significant reductions in global GHG emissions.

In results published today in the journal Nature Communications, the scientists say the air samples from just those surface mining operations suggest their carbon dioxide emissions are 64 per cent higher, on average, than what the companies themselves report to the federal government using the standard United Nations reporting framework for greenhouse gases. "A lot of assumption here have never been tested," Bayley said. GHG emissions for crude production. The oil sands have a long history of technological innovation that has led to improvements in energy efficiency and associated emissions reductions.

It is expected emissions per barrel will continue to decline over the coming years. Regardless of the source, GHG emissions are a shared global challenge, requiring a global solution. That release is the equivalent of seven years' worth of emissions from the oil sands mining region.

This tends to make heavy oil production more emissions-intensive per barrel of oil produced.

In comparison, Alberta has strived to be viewed as a climate change policy leader by ensuring all commitments are in place via various legislative pieces such as the Oil Sands Emissions Limit Act (establishes a hard limit for GHG emissions from all oil sands … GHG emissions from oil production should be considered in their full context, taking into account the emissions produced when the oil is consumed.

They then calculate their carbon emissions from their fuel use, but it can be fraught with uncertainties, Liggio said.
For example, final combustion emissions of gasoline emerging from tailpipes account for 70–80 percent of lifecycle emissions.Footnote 2 These vehicle emissions are the same, regardless of the crude oil from which the gasoline is derived. To that end, Canada played an instrumental role in reaching the Paris Agreement, under which 195 countries agreed to strengthen the global response to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees. A new finding comes amid a debate about the carbon footprint of the oil sands generally. The oil sands contributed about 9.3 percent of Canada’s total GHG emissions in 2014, which is equal to approximately 0.1 percent of global emissions.Footnote 1, Source: IHS ENERGY, Comparing GHG Intensity of the Oil Sands and the Average US Crude Oil, May 2014. Rooney said the emission numbers take into consideration the offsetting carbon benefits of existing efforts by industry to reclaim land.

The government has committed to working with the provinces and territories to establish a pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Greg Stringham, a vice president at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said in a statement that "industry's obligation is to restore the land to a sustainable condition, a similar but not identical state. For companies to mine Canadian oil sands crude, or bitumen, they must remove trees, along with approximately 2 meters of peat, sand and gravel, before reaching oil. About 80 per cent of oilsands reserves, and the majority of current production, require in-situ extraction. A study released last month in Nature Climate Change found that emissions released from burning oil sands fuel would be minuscule in comparison to those from combusting coal and natural gas.

Companies unable to comply with the target through direct emissions reductions can use recognized offsets or pay a C$30/tonne fee by 2017 into its Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund. Additionally, the upland trees like spruce and aspen commonly used as replacement do not have nearly the carbon-absorbing ability of peat, the researchers said.

Oil Sands' CO2 Emissions Could be Higher Than Thought. As it stands, producing 1.8 million barrels per day of tar sands oil resulted in the emissions of some 47.1 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent in … "The industry can't tell you how much peat they've agreed to have destroyed," Rooney said. Peat, the mass of decomposed plant matter that has settled in many wetlands in Alberta, is composed of about 50 percent carbon, accumulated over thousands of years.
The gap between the facilities' reported carbon dioxide emissions and the levels calculated by researchers was 13 per cent for the Suncor site, 36 per cent for the Horizon mine, 38 per cent for Jackpine and 123 per cent for Syncrude. It also emphasizes that about 80 percent of the oil in Alberta is not attainable by mining but must instead be produced in situ, using natural gas to heat steam to loosen bitumen. The province also does not have a comprehensive wetlands policy, which makes it difficult to craft rules for what to do with disturbed lands, specifically peatlands, according to Bayley, a study co-author.

Left out of the study, notably, are emissions from all oilsands operations that use in-situ extraction, pumping steam into the ground to get the petroleum out. Scientists from the University of Alberta found that 10 operational oil sands mining projects would destroy enough peatlands to release 11.4 million to 47.3 million metric tons of stored carbon into the atmosphere. Closed Captioning and Described Video is available for many CBC shows offered on CBC Gem. The study is the first that measures the cumulative effect of reclaimed mines, and not each mine in isolation, Bayley said.

Accurate estimates of anthropogenic or human-generated greenhouse gases "inform national and international climate policies," the researchers write.

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges. Once the Sandhill wetland, or fen, is completed this year, it will serve as the site of a 15-year research study on peatland reclamation. ", Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. Comments are welcome while open. There could be non-combustion sources like tailing ponds," he said. 'Misleading' notions of restoration More than 61 million tonnes of GHG emissions have also been reduced, from a business-as-usual scenario, since 2007. Oil sands cogeneration operations, which produce electricity as a byproduct of oil sands production, are an example of this. If the full area currently under lease for future mining had been calculated, as well, the carbon emission numbers could be three times higher, said Rebecca Rooney, a research associate in the biological sciences department at the University of Alberta and a co-author of the study, which appeared yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Sources: World Resources Institute 2014, CAIT Climate Date Explorer and Environment Canada, National Inventory Report 1990-2014 Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada. Cogeneration operations produce approximately 2,200 megawatts of power per year.

The standard "bottom up" method sees companies quantify the amount of fuel they use at each source of their operation, from extraction to delivery of crude to refineries. According to the Oil Climate Index, carbon emissions from oil-sand crude are 31% higher than from conventional oil. The researchers, mainly from Environment Canada, calculated emissions rates for four major oilsands surface mining operations using air samples collected in 2013 on 17 airplane flights over the area. "That's quite alarming.".

It means that Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions would be around 2.3 per cent higher than previously thought. Suncor and Syncrude Canada Ltd. are two oil sands mining companies that have spearheaded mining reclamation projects.

After the initial release of carbon, the altered landscape -- including with "reclaimed" trees -- will continue to absorb carbon at a much lower rate in the mined oil sands region without peat, or about 5,734 to 7,241 metric tons less annually, the three scientists found.

"I don't think that anyone is saying that reclamation promises to restore the complete systems that were there prior to mining," he said. The carbon deficit still occurs because peatlands cannot easily be restored.

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