On a High Note: Alberta Tightens Emission Standards for Oil Sands Mines

On a High Note: Alberta Tightens Emission Standards for Oil Sands Mines

Recently, the province of Alberta in Canada has announced its intention to toughen up its current greenhouse gas emission standards for oil sands mines. The oil sands (AKA the tar sands) are vast oil fields and mines in the Canadian province of Alberta. Making up the largest industrial projects in the world, the sands cover an area greater than England, are located on Indigenous land, and produce some of the "world's most carbon-intense crude." But, in the last couple of years, a loophole has allowed them to benefit financially from their emissions through tradeable performance credits.

Alberta’s overhaul of the previous emissions-reduction system will mean oil sands mines can no longer be paid for their emissions, and it will help the province reduce its absolute (versus relative) emissions. It also puts Canada on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, in alignment with the Paris Agreement.

Alberta's announcement comes after mounting federal pressure to strengthen its standards due to a lack of progress in annual emissions reductions. There’s hope the commitment will pave the way for "greening operations" in businesses across the province in the near future. And hope it represents a continuing trend of governments taking the lead on enforcing climate change regulations and holding companies accountable for their emissions.

Nordea Funds: The environmental impact of tar sands, Dec 2, 2020.

Climate Atlas of Canada: Renewables in the heart of the Tar Sands, March 4, 2019.