Articles related to climate change

CIAC supports federal government’s refocused climate change plan

The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) signaled it support in principle for Canada’s updated climate change plan announced today.

“We are pleased to see that the federal government listened to industries’ challenges and is working to develop carbon policies recognizing emission-intensive, trade-exposed sectors. By stating its intention to eliminate industrial solid and gaseous fuels from the Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) there is increased confidence in Canada’s ability to attract investment into this important sector while simultaneously pursuing a low carbon economy,” said Bob Masterson, President and CEO of CIAC.

In initial discussions, the CFS was to cover liquid, gaseous and solid fuels. In 2019, CIAC called attention to the CFS’ proposed carbon pricing duplication, pointing out it would push the total carbon price to an excess of $200 per tonne, effectively doubling the cost of natural gas for the industry. This would add millions of dollars of expenses on an industry that is already facing global competitiveness concerns. CIAC also stated strong concerns about its industry being captive to compliance costs passed on by others and without an ability to influence those costs.

Masterson further noted, “A transparent, predictable price on carbon that provides competitiveness considerations for Canada’s trade-exposed industrial sectors is a much preferred approach for dealing with the challenge of climate change.”

The Canadian chemistry industry agrees that climate change is an urgent issue. Achieving Canada’s emissions goals will require chemistry-based solutions in housing, transportation, energy storage, clean energy and numerous other applications. Canada’s chemistry industry can continue to meet those needs with some of the lowest carbon chemistry pathways currently available and while attracting new investment in innovative products and processes to drive emissions even lower.

Canada’s chemistry sector sees opportunities and challenges on the road to carbon zero

Canada’s chemistry industry shares Canadians concerns on the impacts of a changing climate and the urgency of reducing emissions in line with scientific evidence and Canada’s international commitments.

Achieving the ambitious goal of net-zero carbon emissions for all of Canada by 2050 will require chemistry-based solutions, says Bob Masterson, President and CEO of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada.

“Our industry continues to be a solutions-provider to the world’s most challenging problems. We are ready to step up to the challenge, but we need close collaboration to meet this ambitious goal,” says Masterson. “Increasing global attention to mitigating carbon emissions presents an opportunity rather than a threat to Canada’s chemistry industry.”

Canada’s chemistry and plastics sectors create some of the lowest greenhouse gas-intensive products on the planet. Through the U.N. recognized sustainability initiative, Responsible Care®, CIAC’s members have engaged in safe, responsible, and sustainable chemical manufacturing for 35 years. Investments in research and innovation have allowed our sector to modify processes reducing our overall greenhouse gas emissions by 67 per cent since 1992. There is opportunity to do even more while providing Canadian-made products to help other sectors achieve further reductions.

To assist in meeting our shared objectives, our sector will be focused on working with federal and provincial governments in critical areas involving: carbon capture and storage; hydrogen production and utilization; energy efficiency; bio-based chemistries, and; creating a circular economy for plastics, which will allow carbon already in the economy (in the form of post-consumer use plastics) to be continuously recycled and avoid emissions from the production of new plastic resin.

Carefully designed, in collaboration with industry, Canada’s net zero carbon plan has the potential to strengthen Canada’s chemistry sector further and contribute to making Canada’s economy more resilient and competitive. Emission reductions in key sectors such as green buildings, sustainable transportation through light weighting vehicles for greater fuel efficiency, clean energy and sustainable agriculture would be impossible without chemistry and plastics.

To successfully transition to a low-carbon economy and achieve net-zero emission goals, the chemistry sector requires closer collaboration and alignment between the federal and provincial governments through: recognizing the important role of the chemistry sector in research, innovation, and the implementation of climate-focused solutions; promoting active engagement and collaboration with industry, and; supporting the low carbon transition of the chemistry sector.

Canada is a country with diverse energy resources and needs which will require regional solutions and a range of options to address the requirements of Canadians, businesses and industry. We also believe national standards and harmonization between the federal government and the provinces will be vital.

For more information, please see: Chemistry: Essential to Canada’s Transition to a Low-Carbon Energy Future.

Tackling climate change needs chemistry, CIAC tells Sixth Estate panel

The chemistry sector is uniquely qualified to help tackle the global issue of climate change, Bob Masterson President and CEO of CIAC, told a panel discussion on climate change In Ottawa January 31.

Pictured: Catherine Clark and CIAC President and CEO Bob Masterson

The Climate Change and the Environment panel, organized by the Sixth Estate News online broadcaster, also included leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Sean Fraser; and the vice-president of federal affairs for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Craig Stewart. It was moderated by Catherine Clark.

David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data also provided interesting findings showing that the majority of Canadians think climate change is an important problem and that they didn’t know which political party was best suited to tackle the problem.

“Chemistry is a key driver to sustainability and Canada has a low carbon feedstock making us carbon-advantaged over other jurisdictions that use coal,” said Mr. Masterson. “So how do we make these changes happen faster? Price the things you don’t want – like carbon, GHGs – and reward the things you do want – like jobs and growth.”

Ms. May even jumped in to support Mr. Masterson’s comments on the U.N. Kigali Accord, which came out of the Montreal Protocol in the 1980’s, starting in 2019, new refrigerants from the chemistry sector will avoid 0.5 C of global temperature increases, making them the single largest contributor to addressing climate change to date.

“We can, when we seek to do it, make real change,” Ms. May told the panel. “Like the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer in the late ‘80s, we can take the same approach with climate change. We have to talk about our success stories.”

Other panelists included Dale Marshall, national program manager at Environmental Defence, Rachel Curran, principal at Harper and Associates and Velma McColl, managing principal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group, in a segment hosted by Global News Chief Political Correspondent David Akin.

Watch the recording or read a full rundown of the panel discussion.
Read Bob Masterson’s opinion piece Chemistry: Essential to Canada’s Transition to a Low-Carbon Energy Future

CIAC congratulates Elysis for new carbon-free aluminum production process

Congratulations to Canadian aluminum sector leaders Alcoa, Alcana and Apple who, with the support of the Federal and Quebec Governments, have developed a new carbon-free aluminum production process that will eventually result in annual greenhouse gas reductions of more than six million tons in Canada alone.

“The process relies upon decades of research in totally new chemical reactions from those associated with carbon-based production methods,” said Vincent Christ, CEO of Elysis, the new joint venture.

This success illustrates that by working together, the resource, manufacturing and chemistry sectors can point the way to a more sustainable future while growing the economy, here in Canada, while at the same time reducing emissions. The new venture will be in Quebec and export the technology throughout the rest of the world.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto announce world’s first carbon-free aluminum Smelting Process

$558 million investment project will create and maintain thousands of jobs in Canada

Masterson at CERI Petrochemical Conference: “Canada’s federal and provincial governments need to row in the same direction.”

On June 6, Bob Masterson, CIAC president and CEO, gave the keynote address at the CERI Petrochemical Conference in Kananaskis, Alberta: “Rowing in the Same Direction – What’s Needed to Realize Petrochemical Investment in Canada.” He addressed concerns related to the changing nature of Canada-U.S. relations and the potential impact on Canadian industry. He also highlighted how industry and government can – and need – to work together for Canada to keep its place in the global economy. 

“The lack of new investment at a time of re-investment in the U.S., combined with policy choices in central Canadian provinces that have left investors and operators scratching their heads, makes for a highly uncertain future for Canada’s chemistry sector,” Masterson said. “If we are to succeed and float a credible plan, it is going to take unprecedented coordination between business and government, and between governments at all levels.”

At the conference, Dylan Jones, Deputy Minister, Western Economic Diversification Canada – who reports to Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Minister Navdeep Bains – suggested CIAC’s Ottawa advocacy campaign had caught the attention of government decision makers. The government is beginning to change how it views the chemistry sector and is willing to support the industry in the future because of CIAC’s advocacy efforts.

Key messages from the Deputy Minister included:

  • Chemistry is far from the only sector seeking subsidies or investment assistance, but providing that assistance is a role of government; 

  • Government needs sound data to make good decisions and industry and government need to work together on the interpretation of data; and, 
  • The government makes investments, sector comparisons and policy decisions on which sectors to fund/not fund.  

Masterson’s full speech is available here, and his presentation slides are available here.

CIAC’s Masterson to Senate: bad news if we don’t get greenhouse gas management policies right.

On February 28, Bob Masterson, CIAC President and CEO, and David Podruzny, Vice-President Business and Economics, appeared in front of the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources to discuss greenhouse gas reduction policies. This appearance was a follow up to a meeting held last fall and the first since the committee toured several member sites in Sarnia in November.

During his opening remarks (available on video here), Masterson conveyed four key messages:

  1. The chemistry industry is a fast moving industry expected to reach 6 trillion per year globally by 2020.  Chemistry is the key solutions provider for many of the worlds sustainability problems.

  2. There are many different pathways to produce high-volume industrial chemicals. This has implications for greenhouse gas emissions as one moves further along the hydrocarbon molecule chain.
  3. Canada has some of the lowest carbon feedstocks on earth which, when combined with a largely decarbonized electricity sector and burgeoning biochemical industry, provides us an opportunity to become a global leader in low carbon chemical production.
  4. The path Canada is on will result in under-utilization of Canada’s low carbon chemistry feedstocks and an otherwise over-utilization of higher carbon feedstocks from other jurisdictions to meet global chemistry demand.  This is poor public policy. 

The appearance included an hour-long question and answer period with the committee members, which gave Masterson and Podruzny the chance to further expand on the chemistry industry’s message. Both worked to convey that Canadian produced chemical products are part of the answer to the world’s most pressing sustainability problems, including climate change, and that new investments in the sector will help reduce the inefficient and dated use of resources in other parts of the globe. 

As the committee moves closer to making their recommendations, Masterson asked them to carefully consider the cumulative policy burden Canadian chemical producers are being asked to shoulder. Failure to do so would be bad for business, bad for workers and the communities in which we operate, bad for Canada’s trade balance and its future economic prospects and, ultimately, bad for global greenhouse gas emissions.

CIAC members reduced the global-warming potential of their operations by 68 per cent

Responsible Care®, the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada’s U.N.-recognized sustainability initiative, motivates its members to take actions that advances the sustainability of their operations and reduces harm throughout the entire life cycle of their products.

For more than 20 years, as part of the commitment to Responsible Care, CIAC members have been driven to improve and publicly report on key indicators including emissions data, workplace and transportation safety, community engagement, and waste reduction.  This year’s annual Responsible Care Sustainability Indicators Report is now available.

This report marks the eighteen-consecutive year that the association has transparently published its emissions. CIAC members report their emissions via the National Emissions Reduction Masterplan (NERM) and Environment Canada’s National Pollution Release Inventory (NPRI). 

“CIAC members have made remarkable progress towards improving air and water quality, reducing greenhouse gases, and conserving resources,” said CIAC President and CEO Bob Masterson. “This report shows how our members are dedicated to the betterment of society, the environment and the economy.” 

The Responsible Care Sustainability Indicators found that since 1992, CIAC members have:

  • reduced discharges to water by 97 per cent;
  • reduced emissions of toxins targeted by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act by 86 per cent; 
  • substantially reduced emissions of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (by 63 per cent) and sulphur dioxide (by 90 per cent); 
  • reduced the global-warming potential of their operations by 68 per cent; and
  • reduced the number of injuries and illnesses at their workplaces by 86 per cent.

The annual Responsible Care Sustainability Indicators Report is available here.

Canada needs more chemistry

Bold leadership is needed to attract and win new investments

The flurry of consultations by various departments over the past summer was a clear indication that the Government of Canada is focussing on low carbon, innovative, economic growth.

An effective innovation strategy should foster the development of products, services and industries that can best capitalize on the natural resources and talent that already exist in our country. The chemistry industry is well positioned to deliver on these expectations, if Canada can build and maintain a competitive, long-term investment environment.

Written off as a mature industry decades ago, North America’s chemistry industry has experienced a dramatic resurgence following the advent of abundant, low-carbon feedstock associated with the shale gas revolution. Today, more than 270 projects are being tracked totalling over $250 billion in new investments, with more than 600 additional investments in the downstream plastics sector. This makes chemistry the fastest growing manufacturing sector in North America and the poster child for reshoring manufacturing.

This new feedstock means chemistry facilities can operate with half the energy demand and half the greenhouse gas emissions compared to older facilities fuelled by crude oil. Moreover, compared to coal-fed chemistry processes in China, this abundant and advantageously priced feedstock provides a ten to one energy and greenhouse gas advantage – to make the same finished product. The economic and environmental advantages of shale gas feedstocks are so great that European chemistry operations are now being retrofitted to receive feedstocks imported from North America.

This rapid re-tooling and expansion is a testament to the industry’s commitment to innovation, to adopting cutting-edge technologies, and to the reduction of carbon emissions. Other factors reinforce this view.

It is not a widely appreciated that more than 95 per cent of all products manufactured today rely on chemistry. Addressing the challenges of clean energy, air and water, and a sufficient supply of safe and nutritious food on a global scale is entirely dependent on chemistry-based solutions. From improved building insulation to lighter plastics for automobiles, and the production of solar and wind energy equipment, innovative chemistry products and processes are essential in helping society meet its needs while reducing its carbon emissions.

While there have been some important investments in recent years in Ontario, and Alberta is poised to attract additional investments, Canada has not kept pace with growth in the U.S. Based on historical patterns, Canada should have attracted $25 billion of new investment. Instead, only about one tenth of that has found its way here.

The good news is Canada is at least making the short lists for companies considering North American investments. Canada has market and feedstock access and has taken some measures to improve the country’s fiscal competitiveness with the 10-year extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance and lowering corporate tax rates. But, more is needed to create the winning conditions for investments. In the end, it is a winner takes all game.

By recognizing opportunities, partnering closely with the provinces and working to further strengthen the country’s investment climate, Canada can position itself as a destination of choice for sustainable investments.

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