Syncrude Canada has committed $7 million this year to recreate a 54-hectare peat wetland called the Sandhill Fen Watershed project. The current commitment across oil sands companies should be increased at least tenfold, Wieder said. 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. "You need to know type of fuel combusted, because different fuels use more or less carbon. This fund has collected more than C$577 million as of April 2015, which is being invested in technologies and projects that will further reduce GHG emissions. 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. We reserve the right to close comments at any time. The scientists behind Tuesday's paper instead used a "top-down" approach involving hundreds of air samples taken during more than 80 hours of flights over four major surface mining operations in northern Alberta: Syncrude Canada's Mildred Lake facility, Suncor's Millennium and North Steepbank site, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s Horizon mine, and what was then Shell's Albian Jackpine operation, now majority owned by Canadian Natural. To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). The lead author of the paper, John Liggio of Environment Canada, was quick to point out that the lower emissions rates reported by companies are in no way due to data-toggling or dishonesty on their part. GHG emissions for crude production. The focus on reclaiming upland forests over peatlands is dependent on timing -- in order to restore peat, the mine basins must be spent of the valuable bitumen. More than 61 million tonnes of GHG emissions have also been reduced, from a business-as-usual scenario, since 2007. "Three hectares is a drop in a bucket.". The study comes amid a fierce debate about the carbon footprint of the oil sands generally. This tends to make heavy oil production more emissions-intensive per barrel of oil produced. 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. It's not a simple calculation.". According to the Oil Climate Index, carbon emissions from oil-sand crude are 31% higher than from conventional oil. Regardless of the source, GHG emissions are a shared global challenge, requiring a global solution. Suncor and Syncrude Canada Ltd. are two oil sands mining companies that have spearheaded mining reclamation projects. 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. You will not receive a reply. There have been television ads running in Canada showing people walking through reclaimed areas of flowers and trees that are "completely misleading," Schindler said. Explore our digital archive back to 1845, including articles by more than 150 Nobel Prize winners. "Such anthropogenic GHG emission data ultimately underpin carbon pricing and trading policies.". Peatlands make up a majority of the fully leased area of the oil sands, a plot about the size of Rhode Island that is expected to be fully developed. That means the overall amount of underreported greenhouse gas emissions could be significantly higher. Notes: The area of each circle is proportional to each jurisdiction’s greenhouse gas emissions from the respective source. 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 … In the perspective of large-scale landscape projects, the authors of the study are probably right: The reclamation efforts will do little to recoup the greenhouse gas emissions from extracting oil sands and digging out peat. Albertan law generally requires all land disturbed by oil sands operations to be reclaimed by an official company plan. Rooney said the current study does not contradict that research, since the footprint of the oil sands would still be less than that of coal even with consideration of the peatlands. Cogeneration operations produce approximately 2,200 megawatts of power per year. Oilsands companies have to report their carbon emissions to the federal government's national inventory as part of Canada's obligations under the United Nations convention on climate change. "The bottom line," Liggio said, "is we still have more work to do in terms of really determining how much is being emitted.". She tweets about science, environment and music @TiffanyStecker. Closed Captioning and Described Video is available for many CBC shows offered on CBC Gem. Canada's oil sands CO2 emissions are significantly higher than indicated by industry data collected using internationally recommended methods, according to a study published Tuesday. The industry notes that less than 1 percent of global emissions come from the oil sands. 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. They're not doing anything on purpose," Liggio said in an interview Monday. A number of major oilsands operations in Alberta seem to be emitting significantly more carbon pollution than companies have been reporting, according to a new study from federal scientists. Audience Relations, CBC P.O. 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. 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. A new finding comes amid a debate about the carbon footprint of the oil sands generally. In 2007 Alberta became the first jurisdiction in North America to have mandatory GHG emission reduction targets for large emitters across all sectors. An oil sands specific output-based allocation approach will replace the current approach. Oil Sands' CO2 Emissions Could be Higher Than Thought. © 2020 Scientific American, a Division of Springer Nature America, Inc. Support our award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. "A lot of assumption here have never been tested," Bayley said. 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. Extracting bitumen and other heavy crude oil requires more energy than the production of lighter and more accessible forms of crude oil. It means that Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions would be around 2.3 per cent higher than previously thought. Rooney said the emission numbers take into consideration the offsetting carbon benefits of existing efforts by industry to reclaim land. Peatlands are an important component of slowing the onset of climate change, as they absorb carbon dioxide and prevent the release of the gas into the atmosphere. The carbon emissions numbers also would jump if companies do not fully implement their plans to "reclaim" land by planting carbon-absorbing trees over mined areas, she said. 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. The Government of Canada is providing national leadership by joining with the provinces and territories to take action on climate change, put a price on carbon, and reduce carbon pollution.
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