Learn more about Suncor's seven point climate change action plan

Learn more about Suncor's seven point climate change action plan

Learn more about Suncor's seven point climate change action plan

Learn more about Suncor's seven point climate change action plan

View the latest Report on Sustainability

Suncor employees at the Nikanotee Fen, an environmental reclamation initiative

Climate change action plan

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We recognized early on that climate change would be an important issue for our company and our stakeholders. That’s why we introduced a seven-point action plan in 1997.

Guided by this plan, we have made substantial progress in reducing the overall carbon intensity of our operations (i.e. the amount of carbon emitted for each barrel or cubic metre (m3) of oil produced or refined).

While much has changed over the years, our climate change strategy remains a reliable guide for an era when there is increased focus on the need for collaboration, investment in emissions-reducing technologies and constructive public policy development.

Read more about our public policy participation

Seven-point action plan

Below is a summary of actions we continued to take in 2015 on our seven-point action plan to better manage our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and constructively address the climate change challenge.

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1. Manage our own emissions

  • Absolute emissions remained flat while emissions intensity decreased. GHG Emissions remained relatively flat in 2015 as compared to 2014 due to no significant changes to our portfolio. Current operations realized increased efficiencies and improved reliability which is shown in the decrease to corporate wide GHG emissions intensity.
  • Our most effective near-term opportunity for reducing our GHG emissions and emissions intensity is through improved energy efficiency and plant reliability. We continue to invest in longer-term technologies that hold the potential of significantly reducing emissions intensity and ultimately bending the curve on absolute emissions growth.
  • In 2015, we are focused on sustainment and continuous improvement of our comprehensive Energy Management System (EMS) across all of our onshore operated facilities. While much progress has been made, we now expect to complete this by the end of 2016.
  • EMS is one enabler for us to achieve our company-wide 10% improvement in energy efficiency target by 2015 (as compared to 2007). EMS involves the implementation and sustainment of a comprehensive system that monitors, benchmarks and improves the energy efficiency of our facilities through operational discipline and targeted projects.

2. Develop renewable sources of energy

  • We operate Canada’s largest ethanol production plant, and are currently involved in six wind farms, totaling 287 megawatts (MW) of capacity.
  • The 100 MW Cedar Point II wind farm is now operational. Currently, our combined renewable energy developments displace about one million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year — the equivalent of the annual tailpipe emissions of about 255,000 typical cars.

Read more about renewable energy

3. Invest in technology and innovation

  • We continued to play a leading role in 2015 in developing long-term alternative bitumen extraction technologies that could result in significantly reducing the GHG emissions intensity of oil sands production.
  • Among initiatives, we are leading a research and development project that would see implementation of autonomous haulage systems in our mines, a first in North America. See technology development for further details.
  • Suncor is examining novel methods of using steam, solvents and electromagnetics to produce in-situ bitumen. If successful, these efforts could potentially reduce GHG intensity by over 50%. See technology development for further details.
  • We also formed Evok Innovations, which is a unique partnership between Cenovus Energy, Suncor and the BC Cleantech CEO Alliance. Evok is an entrepreneur-led capital fund that’s designed to find, finance and accelerate next-generation technologies to meet the challenges facing Canada’s energy industry.
  • In 2012, we co-founded Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), an alliance of 13 companies representing 90% of Canadian oil sands production.
    • COSIA is committed to collaborative action to accelerate improvements in environmental performance in four key areas, including GHGs.
    • COSIA will build on the work of other collaborative networks to share knowledge and expertise about new technologies and innovation.
    • In terms of developing potential high-impact emissions-reducing solutions, COSIA is bringing together a broader range of ideas and resources and an increased capacity for implementing new approaches in a structured and disciplined way.

    As part of COSIA, Suncor is also helping to sponsor a $20 million XPrize contest that will encourage innovators to come up with new ideas to take carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas plants and transform them from an environmental liability into useable products.
    Visit the COSIA website for details
  • To achieve further carbon intensity reductions and advance potential long-term climate change solutions, including energy efficiency, low-intensity bitumen extraction, or carbon capture and storage (CCS), we continued to work through organizations like:

4. Use domestic and international offsets

  • Our operating wind farms continued to generate GHG offset credits. In Alberta, our offset credits accrue based on the Wind-Powered Electricity Systems Offset Protocol in the Offset Credit System. In other jurisdictions where we operate, the credits or environmental attributes accrue to the Crown utilities that purchase power. The offset credits generated at our Alberta wind farms may be used by our oil sands facilities to help comply with the Alberta Specified Gas Emitters Regulation.

    Read more about our wind farms on suncor.com

  • We belong to the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). IETA is dedicated to establishing a functional international framework for trading in GHG emission reductions. Through our affiliation, we participate in various working groups to ensure environmental integrity first and foremost, but also to create flexibility for business solutions that leverage actions and opportunities across the globe and the entire Canadian economy.

    The IETA Canadian Working Group has been effective in:
    • collaborating to help structure dialogue and alignment work related to harmonizing GHG emissions monitoring, reporting, and verification systems
    • compatibility of market infrastructure (i.e., tracking and registries)
    • offset system development and protocol alignment
    • technology fund design
    • informing provincial-federal GHG emission equivalency agreements through regular dialogue between industry, provincial, territorial and federal governments
  • We also made a 10-year commitment to the Rio Bravo Carbon Sequestration Project in Belize. The project involves the conservation and sustainable management of more than 51,000 acres of forest in northwest Belize.

    In 2011, part of this project was certified under the Verified Carbon Standard as a United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation project. The balance, in which Suncor has an interest, suffered hurricane damage in 2010 and likely will not be certified until an assessment can be made of the long-term impacts.

    The project continues to provide valuable learning to the forestry community, offset developers and policymakers on issues such as permanence and leakage, and demonstrates how saving forests is part of the climate change solution.

5. Collaborate on policy development

We consult with provincial, state and federal governments on energy and climate change policy. We’re also working with Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission on fiscal policies that will support economic growth and improved environmental performance.

When it comes to climate change regulations, we continue to press for:

  • applying a broad-based economy-wide carbon price
  • clarity and certainty — our investors want to know what the rules are and be assured of their longevity, given that our major projects require significant capital up front and are operational for decades
  • fairness (nationally and internationally) so no one industry or region is unfairly targeted or disadvantaged
  • international standards that promote sustainability reporting and transparency
  • flexibility in compliance mechanisms, so that companies can take the action that is the most cost-effective and appropriate considering the specifics of their operation
  • harmonization that occurs across jurisdictions to avoid overlap and inefficiencies, particularly across the integrated North American energy market
  • the technology fund construct as a means to harnessing oil sands wealth in the research and innovation necessary to change the Canadian energy system over the long term and keep Canada a competitive global energy player

We view GHG emissions trading and other carbon pricing mechanisms as useful tools. We also believe that to be effective, climate change policy must encourage consistent and patient investment in new technologies that will transform how we produce and use energy. Strategic technology investments can lead to deep emission reductions, but there needs to be a willingness to direct industry and public funds toward innovation. Cap-and-trade or carbon pricing policies alone will not accomplish this. 

Read more about public policy participation

6. Educate employees and the public

Energy literacy is a necessary foundation for truly innovative and practical energy solutions. We continue to work with leading organizations to promote energy literacy and advance thinking around a low carbon energy future.

Through Suncor and the Suncor Energy Foundation, we’ve invested in:

  • The Natural Step's Energy Futures Lab in Alberta, bringing together innovators and influencers to collectively address current and future energy challenges
  • Pollution Probe’s efforts to advance energy literacy and a systems-based approach to thinking about energy through the Energy Exchange
  • Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST), an organization that seeks to foster an integrated, community-based approach to resolving energy and environmental challenges
  • the development of a national community of practice for energy literacy through the Canada Science and Technology Museum
  • The Walrus Talks Energy speaker series in partnership with The Walrus Foundation highlighting various perspectives on the current and future energy system
  • an initiative by The Pembina Institute, called Green Energy Futures, which profiles stories of real people and their experiences with using green energy technologies in their homes and communities through a multi-media platform
  • Student Energy and their global activities to educate and connect people and ideas around the future of energy development
  • Alberta Council for Environmental Educationand its efforts to develop and introduce environmental and energy literacy into the Alberta education curriculum
  • GreenLearning's development and delivery of an educational dialogue for high school students on the sustainable development of Canada’s oil sands
  • our employees, who continue to take individual accountability for reducing waste and improving energy efficiency as part of our employee engagement initiative. This initiative extends from lunchtime sessions on energy conservation to recognizing employees for energy efficiency and GHG emission reduction projects through our President’s Operational Excellence Awards

Read more about community investment on suncor.com

7. Measure and report our progress

  • In March 2016, we filed five annual GHG emission compliance reports for our Alberta operations with the Alberta government to the province’s Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER).
  • We are also in compliance with all applicable requirements of the European Union Emission Trading System
  • We annually report to Environment Canada for all our facilities in Canada that emit over 50,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for our Commerce City refinery and to the provincial jurisdictions of Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia in compliance with their reporting requirements.
  • We report our overall progress on managing GHG emissions to all stakeholders through our Report on Sustainability and CDP Climate Change.

For business planning purposes, we model the emissions associated with all of our future operated production, including growth projects, to assess our risks and identify opportunities associated with existing and anticipated carbon regulatory regimes. Our future carbon price assumption takes into account the best information we have from carbon markets and emerging public policy in the jurisdictions where we have material operations. Our model includes a carbon price that starts at $15 per tonne and rises to about $55 per tonne. Our model assumes the carbon price applies to a gradual increased percentage of our emissions over time. Read our 2016 CDP response.