Oil and gas continues to spend more on environmental protection than any other industry in Canada

Photo courtesy Cenovus Energy

The latest numbers are in showing how much businesses in Canada spend on environmental protection, and it’s another year with the oil and gas sector way ahead of the pack.  

Statistics Canada reports that oil and gas producers spent $3.1 billion on environmental protection in 2019, the highest of all 20 industries in the annual survey.  

The investment by oil and gas producers represents more than one third of total environmental protection spending in Canada. It is more than triple the spend of the next-highest industry on the list, mining and quarrying, at $882 million. Coming in third is primary metal manufacturing at $786 million in 2019.  

Statistics Canada’s report of environmental protection spending includes operating costs like salaries and services, as well as capital costs like machinery and equipment. All must be used to prevent, reduce or eliminate pollution or other environmental degradation, or restore the environment from a degraded state.  

Oil and gas is the only industry that spent more in 2019 on environmental protection machinery and equipment (59 per cent) than on salaries and services (41 per cent). By comparison, 35 per cent of mining and quarrying’s spend went to capital costs and 65 per cent on operating expenses. 

Across sectors, businesses spent the most on wastewater management ($3.3 billion), followed by solid waste management ($1.9 billion) and air pollution management ($1.6 billion).  

The highest expenditure by province occurred in Alberta, where companies in all sectors spent nearly $3.4 billion on environmental protection in 2019. This represents almost 40 per cent of spending across the country, which Statistics Canada says is because of the prominence of the oil and gas industry. Next highest was businesses in Ontario, which spent approximately $2 billion on environmental protection in 2019.  

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