Managing Carbon

Carbon Management Canada (CMC) is a national network that funds research and promotes the transfer to practice of knowledge and technologies to reduce CO2 emissions in the fossil energy industry and other large stationary emitters. The reason is simple. Reducing carbon emissions is one of the biggest challenges of our times.

CMC is intent on contributing solutions that can be employed in Canada and around the world – because when it comes right down to it, we’re all in this together.

Freeway traffic

Carbon dioxide levels around the world are climbing beyond levels we’ve seen in the last 400,000 years.

Carbon dioxide makes up a small part of the air we breathe, but it plays an important role. It’s a greenhouse gas (GHG) that helps hold heat in the atmosphere. Higher concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs are leading to an increase in average global temperatures, ocean acidification, and rising sea levels – to name a few effects.

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    Environmental CO2 Levels on the Rise: In the last three glacial cycles, levels of atmospheric CO2 have fluctuated but never crossed 300 parts per million. In the last 50 years levels have risen rapidly, corresponding with an increase in global temperatures and in the acidity of surface ocean waters. Although CO2 levels naturally rise and fall, human activity is contributing to current increases – mostly through burning fossil fuels like coal and oil. Data in the chart was reconstructed from ice core samples.
    Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    Environmental CO2 Levels
family cooking

Fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in meeting energy demands for the foreseeable future.

Fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) have the advantage of being reliable, abundant, low-cost and transportable. But they also add GHGs to the environment. As the world transforms to a low-carbon economy, ways must be found to produce, process and deliver fossil fuels with less emissions.

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    The world’s demand for energy is growing rapidly. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), if current policies remain in place, world energy demand in 2035 will be 51% higher than it was in 2009. Most of this growth is stimulated by developing countries where population growth and increased standards of living are driving up energy requirements. Some projections also suggest that in 23 years, 80% of our future energy needs will still be met by fossil fuels. Alternative fuels, such as solar, wind and hydro, are important but cannot meet growing global demands in the foreseeable future.

Humans contribute to GHG emissions through the extraction and use of fossil fuels.

Industry is looking for ways to reduce the emissions released during resource extraction and production and CMC is helping to develop the solutions. We believe Canada can be a global leader in the development of GHG reduction technologies and our role is to move the country toward that success.

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    CO2 is released into the atmosphere through natural events – such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires – and human activities, mainly burning fossil fuels.

    The oil and gas industry in Canada contributes 23 per cent of Canada’s emissions. Well-to-wheels analysis (which considers full product-life cycle from the well site to use in vehicles) shows that 20% of total GHG emissions from crude oils is from exploration and production, while 80% is emitted at point of use such as transportation.

    At CMC, we are working on ways to make resource extraction, processing and production more energy efficient. We are also working on strategies to reduce emissions released by large stationary emitters such as coal-fired power plants and cement operations.
    Post industrial carbon cycle
    Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Greg Dipple

Managing carbon emissions will involve more than technology. It’s a complex problem requiring multi-pronged solutions

CMC has a diverse portfolio of researchers all working toward a common aim – reducing CO2 emissions. We fund research in disciplines ranging from engineering to biology to nanotechnology to genetics and geoscience. We also support researchers working in law, political science, business and communications.

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    CMC currently funds 44 projects for a total of $22 million. Research is assigned to four loose and sometimes overlapping areas:

    Recovery, Processing and Capture: This stream is focused on reducing emissions in operations that extract and process fossil fuels and also in large-scale emitters such as mining and cement processing.

    Emerging and Enabling Technologies: Researchers are looking for insights that will lead to breakthrough technologies in areas not traditionally associated with the energy industry – disciplines like biology, nanotechnology and genomics.

    Secure Carbon Storage: Scientists in this theme are developing the technologies and measuring, monitoring and verification protocols to ensure CO2 can be securely stored.

    Accelerating Appropriate Deployment of Low Carbon Emission Technologies: Work in this theme moves toward resolving the social, business, regulatory and policy questions surrounding the wide-scale adoption of new technologies.

    funding by research theme

Carbon emissions know no borders. It’s a global problem requiring global solutions.

At CMC we believe that innovative solutions will be found when people with different skill sets and world views come to the same table. We are working hard to build a diverse network that includes researchers and people in industry, government and NGOs.

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    The CMC network stretches across nine provinces and includes over 150 investigators working in 26 Canadian and one America university. We also have researchers from industry and government working on our projects.

    In addition, CMC has been collaborating with groups in the United States, the UK, China, Japan and Australia. These include the Pembina Institute, the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, the International Performance Assessment Centre for the Geologic Storage of CO2, and the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.

    To further foster creative problem solving and networking, CMC operates, with the International Performance Assessment Centre for the Geologic Storage of CO2, the Carbon Commons, an international online collaboration platform

    Network map thumb
    The CMC-NCE network extends across Canada with researchers in nine provinces working toward a common cause – reducing CO2 emissions in the fossil energy industry.
George Shimizu

CMC is taking steps to move research from the lab into the world of practice.

CMC can only achieve its mandate of reducing carbon emissions if research is put into large-scale use. There are a variety of steps to successful transfer to practice and CMC supports its researchers as they move along that path

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    New technologies go through a number of stages before they are ready for market. One of CMC’s mandates is to help researchers move their ideas from the drawing board to the bench to demonstration projects and finally into large scale practice.

    The network has on staff a commercialization expert who works with researchers to develop transfer-to-practice plans and will also coach them through the implementation process. And we encourage our researchers to find industry partners, sources of investment and other resources, so research can move from the lab into the world of practice.

    CMC hosts regional, national and international forums, conferences and workshops designed to promote collaboration, problem solving and innovation between academia and industry. We also educate researchers and students on issues surrounding intellectual property, spinoff companies, entrepreneurship and innovation.


One key to success is to empower and enable the activities of our early career researchers.

Today’s young researchers will help deliver the breakthrough solutions needed to help move the world into an carbon-constrained future. CMC is working to support and train early career researchers to take their place in industry and in academia.

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    CMC is enhancing the educational experience of the over 200 graduate and postdoctoral students working in our network. We offer courses, workshops and conferences. We provide networking opportunities with industry through various events and through the knowledge sharing network. We support the CMC Students’ Association, provide workshops and courses, will develop internships with industry, and are planning scholarships.

    With respect to broader activities, CMC is working with industry and other stakeholders to identify skills gaps and labour demand in the area of carbon management.

    Amanda Boyd