Greenhouse gas emissions from the Trans Mountain project


Canada is warming at twice the global average rate and at three times the rate, in the north. While climate change is a threat to our economy and our communities, action to reduce carbon pollution is creating jobs and economic opportunities in Canada and around the world. That is why the Government of Canada fought for an ambitious Paris Agreement and is working to reduce emissions through a comprehensive national climate plan developed with the provinces, territories, and Indigenous Peoples.

Canada’s climate plan is working. The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change includes over 50 concrete measures to reduce emissions, build resilience to a changing climate, and support clean economic growth. The Government of Canada has put a price on pollution. It is regulating methane emissions from the oil and gas sector; reducing carbon pollution from vehicles and buildings; and making historic, multibillion-dollar investments in public transit, green infrastructure, and clean-technology solutions. As a result, we are on track to meet Canada’s Paris Agreement commitment.

Twinning the Trans Mountain project does not change that. The potential carbon pollution from the project is already accounted for in Canada’s national emissions projections and covered by Alberta’s legislated cap on oil sands emissions.

In accordance with the Government of Canada’s interim principles for environmental assessments, Environment and Climate Change Canada assessed the potential upstream greenhouse gas emissions from the project and found that the project is unlikely to result in incremental emissions beyond those already included in Canada’s national emissions projections. Furthermore, the project and any growth in oil and gas production associated with the project are not likely to increase emissions above Alberta’s 100 million tonnes legislated cap on annual oil sands emissions. Alberta’s cap on emissions was instrumental in the Government of Canada’s decision to approve the project.

To ensure the project does not result in a net increase in emissions, the National Energy Board will require Trans Mountain Corporation to offset the estimated 1 million tonnes of emissions from the project’s construction.

The Trans Mountain project will have emissions from two sources: land (pipeline and port activities) and marine shipping. Trans Mountain Corporation estimates that the pipeline and port activities will generate about 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. These will come primarily from the electricity needed to power the compressor stations as well as from some ground transportation and possible methane leaks. These emissions are expected to decline over time as a result of carbon-pollution pricing in Alberta and British Columbia, methane regulations, vehicle regulations, and Canada’s forthcoming Clean Fuel Standard.

To reduce emissions from shipping, Canada is working with the International Maritime Organization. The National Energy Board concluded that shipping emissions from the Trans Mountain project could be effectively reduced through measures that align with the final International Maritime Organization strategy, such as facilitating the use of low-carbon fuels and energy-efficient technologies, and requirements to offset any increases in marine emissions above a given baseline year. The National Energy Board also noted that project-related marine vessels are already subject to various federal and international emission requirements, including standards for bunker fuel and energy-efficiency standards.

Canada is transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The Government is committed to spending the proceeds it earns from owning the Trans Mountain project, on the transition to a clean economy. Additionally, any net proceeds from the eventual sale of the project will also be invested in the low-carbon transition. Among other measures, proceeds could be used to fund public transit, housing, and green infrastructure projects across the country; advance the development of cutting-edge clean technology; make electricity more reliable and affordable; and invest in the future of transportation, for generations to come.

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