Addressing Climate Change

Federal and provincial governments are seeking low-carbon solutions as they confront the impacts of climate change. Canada's chemistry sector and its highly skilled workers are uniquely positioned to provide innovative solutions in the fight against climate change.

Worldwide, the chemical and petrochemical industries are by far the largest industrial energy users, accounting for 10 per cent of total global energy demand. Over 80 per cent of emissions occur during the manufacturing process. This is a key reason why using low-carbon feedstock and implementing the best available process technologies play such an important role in determining the overall greenhouse gas (GHG content of chemistry products).

Explore the figures below to see trends in CIAC members' carbon dioxide emissions since 2004:

This figure shows carbon dioxide emissions from the NERM database overlaid with chemical sales data from Statistics Canada* from 2004 to 2018. Carbon dioxide emissions are lowest in 2009, which coincides with the economic downturn that resulted in decreased production and investment at most facilities. The relationship between chemical emissions and the economy is not only evident during the 2008/2009 crisis. Comparing emissions and sales** trends, there is a clear correlation between these two metrics.

* Statistics Canada. Table 16-10-0047-01 Manufacturers' sales, inventories, orders and inventory to sales ratios, by industry (dollars unless otherwise noted) (x 1,000).

** Note that carbon dioxide data represents only CIAC membership, while sales data from Statistics Canada encompasses all of the Canadian chemistry industry.

This figure shows four pieces of information for each our member facilities: percent difference in carbon dioxide emission intensity in 2018 compared to 2004, total 2018 carbon dioxide emissions, total 2018 production (bubble size), and the chemical sub-sector associated with that facility (bubble colour).

The bubbles that are largest in size and in total emissions largely represent the petrochemical sector. Despite this, none of these facilities exceed a 100% increase in emission intensity; they mainly border the 0% difference line. Comparatively, the bubbles that show the largest increase in emission intensity are facilities with lower production and carbon dioxide emission values, illustrating that small changes (i.e. fluctuations in production) are amplified when considering carbon dioxide emission intensity.

What CIAC members are doing to address climate change

Canada's chemistry industry is a world leader in low-intensity chemical production for many reasons. Perhaps the biggest natural advantage the chemistry sector enjoys is access to abundant supplies of natural gas liquids. Canada's chemistry industry continues to show global leadership when it comes to its own energy footprint, recognizing its role as both an emitter of GHG emissions and a climate change solutions provider.

The international consulting firm McKenzie & Company has developed a technology roadmap for the global chemistry sector identifying all energy and GHG reduction technology available today. Each of these are already being used at one or more facilities in Canada, even technologies identified as experimental or pre-commercial. Since 2004, CIAC members have invested heavily, allowing them to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 14.5 per cent through:

  • investments in new plants and technologies;
  • efforts to conserve energy, through improved energy and emissions tracking;
  • investments in combined heat and power facilities;
  • substitutions of lower-carbon fuels;
  • process changes;
  • CO2 capture and use in production or enhanced oil-recovery operations; and
  • replacements or upgrades of older equipment such as boilers and heaters.

Click on one of the boxes below to learn about innovative projects and solutions CIAC members have undertaken to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

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