Suncor participates in public policy discussions on energy and the environment. Find out more about our public policy participation

Suncor participates in public policy discussions on energy and the environment. Find out more:

Suncor participates in public policy discussions on energy and the environment. Find out more about our public policy participation

Suncor participates in public policy discussions on energy and the environment. Find out more about our public policy participation

Suncor’s vision and strategy is to look beyond the energy needs of today and understand what is required for the future of sustainable development.

Public policy participation

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We participate in public policy discussions on energy and the environment, and regularly communicate with governments in jurisdictions where we operate. In doing so, we ensure that we comply with all political contributions and lobbying regulations, and report government interactions consistent with the law and company policies. 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.

We support governments taking a reasoned approach to policy development. We believe policy should be built on evidence-based information and perspectives. Constructive dialogue and sharing of information are critical in guiding our interaction with governments and stakeholders towards the development of practical policy solutions. These activities promote responsible development of existing and new energy sources. We aim to decrease the probability of reactive policy development by working to reduce polarized dialogue.

Our policy position with governments includes:

  • applying a broad-based economy-wide carbon price
  • encouraging a healthy debate about energy solutions
  • understanding the role of advancements in research, technology and innovation
  • considering energy development and distribution costs and benefits
  • encouraging Aboriginal economic collaboration and capacity building
  • developing vibrant, sustainable communities
  • supporting Canada’s long-term prosperity

A snapshot of some of our thoughts and opinions follows:

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Economic policy

Royalties and taxes

Royalties and taxes should deliver a fair return to government, while providing industry with a competitive, stable and predictable fiscal framework on which to base long-term investment decisions. Policies should recognize market factors, such as challenges faced by corporations competing in a global economy. Levies added over and above current royalties and taxes need to be holistically considered and understood in terms of costs, outcomes and competitiveness against other jurisdictions in which Canada’s natural resources compete.

Transparency

We support regulations that promote transparency and advocate for rules that are consistently applied and respect agreements with First Nations.

Cumulative impact of policy changes

We continually study expected cost increases resulting from existing and proposed policy changes. The study findings are used to inform our approach to the energy systems dialogue. They help us reflect on opportunities holistically and provide context for policy-makers and regulators so that we can fully consider policy benefits and focus on how to incent constructive outcomes. 

Market access

There are several proposals for new or expanded pipelines across the country and into the United States to take oil sands supply to markets. They face significant public scrutiny with concerns being raised about pipeline and marine safety, First Nations rights and their strong relationships to local ecosystems, and broader objections about enabling the North American economy’s reliance on fossil fuels. Pipelines continue to be the safest, most efficient means of transportation for crude oil and other petroleum products, and we are working with stakeholders to address many of these concerns from a producer’s perspective and are engaged with governments to the same extent.

In addition to the existing comprehensive and robust regulatory framework in place that governs development and operation of pipelines and other large infrastructure projects, we support Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) approach to assessing the upstream greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from projects undergoing federal environmental assessment. We believe that efficient, effective and transparent regulatory oversight is the responsible thing to do and will be valuable to accurately inform Canadians, decision-makers and other stakeholders.

Read more about market access on Suncor.com

Social policy

Local community capacity

In co-operation with industry partners and local business associations, we have been working with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in northeast Alberta to better forecast future population growth and infrastructure needs. Building non-profit capacity and supporting key community initiatives continue to be an important component of our work in the region. We also participate in the Athabasca Oil Sands Area Transportation Coordinating Committee, where infrastructure needs, funding and financing options are discussed and prioritized.

Read more about community investment

Read more about Aboriginal relations

Environment policy

Federal Environmental Act Reviews

In May of 2016 the Federal Government initiated a review of Canada’s environmental assessment processes to regain public trust. These reviews include the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), the modernization of the National Energy Board, the Fisheries Act, and the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

Environmental assessment informs government decision-making and supports sustainability development by identifying opportunities to avoid, eliminate or reduce a project’s potential adverse impact on the environment and ensure mitigation measures are in place when a project is constructed, operated and decommissioned.

Suncor’s response to the review processes to date has reinforced that environmental assessment is critical to project development and must be transparent, and effectively and efficiently managed to ensure public and investor confidence.  The process needs to appropriately balance the economy, the environment and social impact while at the same time incent innovation. 

Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP)

In 2008, the Alberta Government introduced the Land Use Framework. The purpose of the Land Use Framework was to manage growth in Alberta by balancing economic, social and environmental goals. The first regional plan, the Lower Regional Athabasca Plan (LARP), was completed in 2012.

The LARP includes management frameworks for:

  • air (SO2 and NOx)
  • surface water quality
  • surface water quantity
  • tailings management
  • regional groundwater management

Each of these frameworks includes interim triggers to allow early indications of change. A Biodiversity Management Framework and Landscape Management Plan continue to be under development.

On an ongoing basis, we also participate in technical discussions that lay a foundation for future policy and regulation on aspects of tailings management, water return, biodiversity and wetlands.

Read more about water quality monitoring

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Climate change regulation

We are engaged with all levels of government to establish a credible carbon policy regulatory framework for the oil and gas sector in Canada. Our position is that Canada's oil sands are a world-class responsibly developed resource that is needed to meet growing global energy demand.

We are a strong voice in the call for effective policy to address the Canadian oil and gas industry’s GHG emissions. In our view, this includes a carbon price signal that incents the right behaviour and a practical regulatory architecture. Since 2008, we have advocated publicly in support of a broad-based, economy-wide carbon price. Our continued collaboration with Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission has generated numerous reports focused on two themes:

  • the importance of implementing carbon pricing
  • considerations needed for policy design

We support regulatory design that:

  • drives best achievable performance from existing facilities
  • provides clear support for innovation and technology development that enables game-changing solutions
  • positions Canada as a leader in energy innovation
  • sets challenging but achievable reduction goals with a process that allows for an increase in ambition as technology develops
  • is flexible and provides for multi-jurisdictional compliance pathways
  • avoids duplication

Read more about our GHG performance

Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan

The Government of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan (CLP) includes a broad-based, economy-wide carbon price with a legislated limit on oil sands emissions of 100 mega tonnes (MT) per year. Alberta is one of the first jurisdictions in the world to set a limit on the emissions of a key resource sector. The new Carbon Competitiveness Regulation (CCR) will replace the current Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER) on Jan. 1, 2018. Under the CCR, an economy-wide price of $30 per tonne is expected to cover an estimated 78-90% of the province’s carbon emissions. To protect the competitiveness of trade-exposed industrial sectors, an Output Based Allocation will determine the number of emissions allowances a facility receives and the carbon price will be paid on emissions above that level.

Suncor is proud to have worked with leading environmental organizations to better understand each other's views and recommend solutions for the oil and natural gas industry that helped inform the CLP. We believe that the CLP will provide predictability and certainty to help ensure that producers can responsibly develop and grow Canada’s oil sands resource while also addressing global concerns about climate change.

Quebec/Ontario – Cap and Trade

Both Quebec and Ontario are members of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) cap and trade economy-wide emissions trading system. The WCI partners (which also include Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and California) have agreed to cut GHG emissions by at least 15% below 2005 levels by 2020.

Our Montreal and Sarnia refineries are required to purchase carbon allowances to cover their respective stationary emissions, as well as cover the tailpipe emissions associated with the fuel sold in those provinces. The WCI cap and trade system imposes a limit on the emissions allowed in each sector of the economy. This provides certainty for industries and creates investment opportunities.

Low carbon fuel standards

We continue to monitor and consult on numerous policy initiatives such as the Federal Government’s proposed Clean Fuel Standards (CFS) to reduce Canada’s GHG emissions through the increased use of lower carbon fuels.

Suncor’s position is that a well-designed carbon price is the most economically efficient and inclusive way to drive responsible emission reductions right across the energy system, including fuel carbon intensity.

There are specific circumstances where carbon pricing is not enough and the transportation sector is generally regarded as an example. In these cases, additional policies can play a role supporting carbon pricing and achieving emissions reductions at lowest cost. The challenge is to design a system without adding duplicative layers of cost and administrative burden, while truly complementing GHG policies that can support a carbon price and drive more emissions reductions at a lower economic cost. Where complementary policies are added to carbon pricing, the objectives of the complementary policy should be clear and the interaction with other policies, and carbon pricing in particular, should be well understood.

Renewable energy

Renewable and Low Carbon power policy

In Alberta, the CLP will accelerate the transition from coal to renewable electricity and natural gas generation by 2030. The government is committed to replacing two-thirds of coal generated electricity with renewables, primarily wind power, and with natural gas – such as power exported to the grid from Suncor’s cogeneration facilities. Renewable energy sources are proposed to comprise of up to 5,000 MW of renewable capacity which is estimated to be approximately 30% of Alberta’s total electricity.

Suncor is an active proponent of increased cogeneration as a key part of the power mix in Alberta, particularly as the province transitions away from coal. Cogeneration provides reliable, base-load power to intermittent renewable power at the lowest GHG intensity of any hydrocarbon fuel.

Collaboration between government and industry is the only way to accelerate the step changes needed for Alberta to transition from an “energy only” market design to a “capacity” market design. As the sixth largest electricity generator in Alberta and an industry player keenly focused on reducing its carbon footprint, Suncor works with policy makers, industry partners and other stakeholders to increase investment in low-carbon power generation. 

Biofuel policy advocacy

Canada’s renewable biofuels industry is quickly maturing, and Suncor is working to improve its long-term viability as current government support programs directed at first-generation biofuels decline. As opportunities arise, we invest in advanced renewable energy technologies to complement the existing biofuel industry. This involves funding outside companies whose technology ideas align with the strategic needs of our operations or businesses.

Suncor supports a flexible performance standard for transportation fuel intensity over more narrowly constructed mandates.

In Canada, there exists a “patchwork quilt” of carbon pricing policies across the provinces, as well as differences in complementary policies across provinces. Over time, this will mean higher costs than necessary. We advocate for both levels of government to ensure that policies work together.

Read more about our renewable energy projects

Canada’s energy industry has a responsibility to navigate between the aspirational and the realistic, which for the oil sector specifically means continuing to keep the Canadian economy moving, through continued investment in existing energy supply and maintaining critical infrastructure. Policies should provide the certainty required to make necessary investment decisions and not lead to leakage of investment capital. There remains much work to be done to define a unified Canadian energy vision for 2050. The need exists for collaborative policy solutions that can advance our nation’s economic ambitions while preserving environmental integrity.