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 invests in new environmental technologies and pursues renewable energy development to be a leader in sustainable energy development.

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 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 decreased from 2016 as compared to 2015 primarily due to decreased oil sands production from forest fires and extended, planned turnaround of Upgrader 2.
  • 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 2016, we were focused on sustainment and continuous improvement of our comprehensive Energy Management System (EMS) across all of our onshore operated facilities, which will be a key activity for achieving our 2030 GHG goal. 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.
  • Suncor also monitors biofuels technologies being developed by external parties. This includes funding outside companies whose technology ideas align with the strategic needs of our operations or businesses. Suncor has invested in Lanzatech, a biofuels firm based in the United States, that is advancing a proprietary gas phase fermentation technology to recycle waste gas and greenhouse gas emissions into low carbon fuels and chemicals. Suncor also is invested in Benefuel, a technology commercialization company focused on building biodiesel production capacity using cost advantaged low carbon intensity feedstock
  • Suncor is committed to increasing renewable energy generation in Canada and building best-in-class renewable energy projects. Wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of electricity generation in the world. It is efficient, emissions-free and renewable.
  • Suncor and our partners are involved in five operational wind power facilities. These wind power facilities have a generating capacity of 187 megawatts (MW), enough to power about 65,000 Canadian homes.
  • Suncor is well positioned to evaluate opportunities across Canada, and in particular, Alberta where the provincial government is targeting to build 5,000 MW of new renewable energy capacity.

Read more about renewable energy

3. Invest in technology and innovation

  • Our continued investment in technology and innovation has allowed us to reduce our per barrel GHG intensity. We expect our ongoing commitment to research and development initiatives will reduce our emissions to be on par with, or lower than, other sources of oil.
  • We continued to play a leading role in 2016 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 technology development project to conduct a commercial scale evaluation of the use 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 co-founded Evok Innovations, which is a unique partnership between Cenovus Energy, Suncor and the BC Cleantech CEO Alliance. Evok is a cleantech fund that accelerates the development and commercialization of solutions to the most pressing environmental and economic challenges facing Canada’s energy industry.
  • In 2012, we co-founded Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), an alliance of 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 Carbon 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 usable products.
  • 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 such as:

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

  • We are a member of 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, additionality and leakage, and demonstrates how saving forests is part of the climate change solution.

5. Collaborate on policy development

Increasingly in Canada, public policy is developed through open and transparent processes, incorporating the expertise and perspective of a broad range of stakeholders. Suncor participates in these forums, bringing our industry perspective and a solutions-based mindset to advance responsible development.

Suncor continues to play an active role in advocating for climate policy leadership nationally and within the jurisdictions in which we operate to ensure that Canada, a resource producing jurisdiction, has a place at the global table to influence collective action on the global challenge of climate change. In July 2016 Suncor became a signatory to the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, a voluntary initiative that aspires to catalyze action towards the successful implementation of global carbon pricing. Suncor also supports the work of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission on fiscal policies that align economic growth and improved environmental performance.

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. 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 is 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 real people and their experiences using green energy technologies
  • Student Energy and their global activities to educate and connect people and ideas around the future of energy development
  • Alberta Council for Environmental Education and its efforts to develop and introduce environmental and energy literacy into the Alberta education curriculum
  • 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 our community investment activities

7. Measure and report our progress

  • In March 2017, 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 Response (PDF, 88 pp., 957.4 KB).
  • In April 2017, we announced the release of Suncor's Climate Report: Resilience Through Strategy (PDF, 18 pp., 1.05 MB), which provides information on how the company assesses climate risk and outlines its plans to build long-term resilience in a low carbon economy.

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 carbon price outlook assumes that the current carbon price will rise to $65/tonne, on an increasing percentage of our emissions, by 2035. As most of our facilities are currently, or will be from 2018, regulated under various carbon pricing regimes, the impact of our outlook is built into our planning assumptions. We estimate the impact of our carbon price outlook on Net Asset Value to be approximately 3.5%. The production weighted average after-tax cash cost per barrel of global upstream production over the period 2018 to 2027 is estimated at approximately $0.60/bbl.