Climate & GHG emissions

We share the world's concerns about climate change and are doing our part to further reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Many credible, independent forecasts indicate oil and natural gas will continue to be a part of the global energy mix for many decades, as a transportation fuel and as a building block for products we use every day like smartphones, contact lenses and even key components of electric vehicles. So, it’s critical we continue to responsibly produce and deliver our oil and natural gas while making every effort to lower our emissions.

We have set a target to reduce our equity-based absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 35% by year-end 2035 from our 2019 levels. Our long-term ambition is to achieve net zero emissions from our operations by 2050. These goals reinforce our focus on participating in a lower-carbon future.

Our climate & GHG emissions target: Getting to net zero

CLIMATE & GHG EMISSIONS

Reduce absolute GHG emissions by 35% by year-end 2035.

Reach long-term ambition for net zero emissions by 2050.

Emissions reductions are in reference to scope 1 and 2, on a net equity basis.

What does this mean? Achieving a 35% reduction in our absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by year-end 2035 means reducing our 2019 total of 23.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) by 8.4 million tonnes – the equivalent to taking more than 1.8 million cars off the road.

What is our plan? Technology will be essential in achieving our targets and multiple pathways will be required to get us there.

We continue to develop our technology roadmap, including investing in technology innovations, establishing partnerships, and expanding opportunities through our Innovation team which is focused on solving our three greatest challenges: carbon, cost and revenue.

In the near term we’re targeting further methane emissions reductions in our conventional operations, expanding carbon capture efforts with projects at our Lloydminster Upgrader, Minnedosa Ethanol Plant and Elmworth gas plant and progressing pilots and feasibility studies that will enable future emissions reductions.

ESG report

Read our environmental, social & governance (ESG) report to learn more about our ESG targets and performance.

Pathways Alliance initiative

We’re collaborating to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our oil sands operations by 2050. Read more.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Learn how Cenovus activities are contributing positively to the SDGs, and where we have opportunities to minimize our negative impact.

Collaboration & partnerships

Learn more about how we’re working with other industries, scientists and entrepreneurs to find innovative solutions to our impacts on air, land and water.

  • Climate & GHG emissions progress
    Reduce absolute GHG emissions by 35% by year-end 20351 as we build toward our long-term ambition for net zero emissions by 2050.

    PROGRESS

    Base year 2019
    23.9 MMt CO2e

    2021
    23.1
    MMt CO2e

    Target 2035 15.5 MMt CO2e

    2021 KEY MILESTONES

    Methane reductions

    Reduced total methane emissions by about 520,000 t from 2020 levels.

    • Successfully piloted alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program (alt‑FEMP) aerial screening.
    • More than 3,000 high‑ to low‑bleed instrument conversions.
    • Successfully piloted Facility of the Future zero vent well pad initiative.
    • Successfully piloted select methane reduction technologies, including instrument gas to air conversions.

    Carbon capture and storage (CCS) and other decarbonization

    • Captured 90,000 t CO2e at Lloydminster Ethanol Plant and Pikes Peak South thermal project.
    • Completed feasibility study for carbon capture at Christina Lake.
    • Evaluated feasibility of carbon capture at Minnedosa Ethanol Plant and Elmworth gas plant.
    • Initiated a technology screening study to determine the optimal CO2 capture technology at the Lloydminster Upgrader.
    • Initiated pre-FEED studies for commercial‑scale carbon capture applications at two Cenovus assets, working with Svante.
    • Committed to a power purchase agreement (PPA) to buy renewable electricity and associated emissions offsets.

    WHAT’S NEXT 2

    Methane reductions

    • Scaling methane reduction initiatives across additional conventional sites.
      • Zero vent well pads, systems electrification, alt‑FEMP expansion.

    CCS and other decarbonization

    • Progress studies to optimize the cost and energy inputs of capturing CO2 from flue gas from natural gas combustion.
    • Progress Minnedosa CCS project, including drilling wells to understand reservoir quality for sequestration.
    • Advance CCS at the Lloydminster Upgrader, select sequestration well location and optimal CO2 capture technology application.
    • Continue work with Svante for design and cost estimates on commercial‑scale carbon capture applications.
    • Collaborate with industry peers in accelerating technology commercialization.
    • Advance Pathways Alliance CO2 pipeline and sequestration hub project.
    • Offset a portion of our scope 2 emissions through additional renewable PPAs.
    • Evaluate direct air capture to offset portfolio emissions from hard‑to‑abate sources.
    • Continue to monitor advancements in non‑combustion uses of bitumen (Bitumen Beyond Combustion).

    Target includes start year: 2019 for emissions. Emissions reductions are in reference to scope 1 and 2, on a net equity basis.
    Represents actions that Cenovus intends to take during the 12 months ending December 31, 2022, unless otherwise noted.

Decarbonization in our business plan

Applying and advancing technologies to reduce absolute emissions

Near-term projects

Methane reductions

Focused on conventional gas and heavy oil businesses

  • Instrument gas to air conversions
  • Facilities systems electrification
  • Solar-powered chemical injection pumps
  • Near-zero vent designs and vent reductions
  • Alt-FEMP aerial screening

CCS & optimization

  • Minnedosa Ethanol plant
  • Elmworth gas plant
  • Lloydminster Upgrader

Facility optimization at oil sands and conventional assets

  • Optimizing steam use through well design & process controls

Pilots and feasibility studies that enable reductions in Phase 2

  • Svante carbon capture technology
  • Advanced amines for carbon capture, designed specifically for natural gas combustion flue gas
  • Feasibility of small modular nuclear reactors for heat and power

Projects being progressed for 2035 target

Future potential developments

  • Additional CCS at the Lloydminster Upgrader and other upstream post-combustion emissions sources
  • Pathways Alliance initiatives to enable decarbonization including foundational carbon transportation line and joint storage hub
  • Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) emission reductions from
    • Solvents
    • Small modular nuclear reactors
  • Portfolio adjustments

Technology pathways to net zero

Long-term vision

  • Full implementation of most efficient large-scale emissions reduction solutions
  • CCS on remaining accessible streams
  • Low-carbon business opportunities

Net zero emissions by 2050

Our long-term ambition is to reach net zero emissions by 2050. This will require ongoing focus on technology and innovation beyond what is available today. But we are up for the challenge.

We continue to identify opportunities to participate in longer-term solutions to address emissions from our operations and beyond, including looking at implementing the most efficient large-scale emissions reduction solutions. Extensive collaboration with our peers, government, academics and other industries and entrepreneurs from around the world is key to achieving our own net zero emissions and helping Canada meet its climate goals. We are working with our peers in the Pathways Alliance. The goal of this first-of-its kind initiative is to achieve a phased reduction in emissions from oil sands operations, reaching net zero by 2050, working in collaboration with Canadian federal and provincial governments.

  • Carbon capture technology

    We currently operate two carbon capture projects:

    • Lloydminster Ethanol Plant – we produce fuel-grade ethanol, and capture, on average, approximately 80,000 tonnes of CO2e per year which is safely injected underground for enhanced oil recovery.
    • Pikes Peak South – in partnership with Svante, we are testing new carbon capture technology, which is capturing upwards of 9,000 tonnes of CO2e per year while enabling the advancement of the technology. Read more about this project.

    In addition to the projects already underway, our five-year plan includes progressing carbon capture technology at our Minnedosa Ethanol Plant, Elmworth gas plant and Lloydminster Upgrader.

  • Solvents

    At our oil sands operations, solvents, which are lighter hydrocarbons, have the potential to significantly reduce our emissions per barrel. For more than 15 years we’ve been testing techniques that use solvents in our steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) operations. Currently we are testing and piloting the use of solvent co-injection to lower our emissions. Learn more about our solvent co-injection pilot.

  • Air quality

    We measure, monitor and report on air quality and emissions of criteria air contaminants following Canadian and U.S. regulations. This allows us to evaluate and manage emissions at the corporate and individual facility level, forecast emissions associated with future operations and achieve regulatory compliance. To reduce air pollutants we invest in technologies that help capture contaminants and fugitives emissions, or lower energy consumption in our day-to-day operations and processes.

Climate & GHG at a glance

  • Between 2004 and 2021, we reduced the emissions intensity at our oil sands operations by approximately 22%.
  • In 2021, we reduced methane emissions by about 25% from 2020 levels.
  • Our Foster Creek and Christina Lake oil sands facilities have cogeneration plants which use natural gas to generate electricity, which we use for our operations and then sell the excess to the Alberta electrical grid, reducing the province’s reliance on coal-fired power.

Our Climate & GHG innovation in action

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