Propane is a low carbon, clean-burning energy source that emits virtually no air pollutants, and is safely transported and used across Canada every day.
Compared to other fuels, propane’s utilization helps to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protect the environment.
Lowering GHG Emissions
Recognized for its low emissions and environmental impact by Canada’s Alternative Fuels Act, propane is one of the cleanest and most versatile fuels in existence.
Studies have found that propane can emit up to 26% fewer GHGs than gasoline in vehicles, 38% fewer GHGs than fuel oil in furnaces and half the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of a charcoal barbecue.
Propane’s end-use GHG emissions are significantly lower than gasoline, diesel, coal and heating oil. When upstream (lifecycle) emissions are taken into account, the case for propane becomes even stronger.
Reducing Air Pollutants
Air pollutants negatively affect people and ecosystems worldwide. Criteria air contaminants and air toxics contribute to air pollution problems such as ground-level ozone, haze and acid rain; and health problems such as allergies, asthma, skin and respiratory tract irritation, and cancer.
Propane emits 60% less carbon monoxide (CO) than gasoline, 98% less particulate matter than diesel and contains virtually no sulphur – a contributor to acid rain. It emits practically no soot, and low hydrogen and oxides of nitrogen, which are the basic precursors of ground-level ozone, or smog. Burning propane also produces lower levels of air toxics, such as benzene and acetaldehyde, than either gasoline or diesel.
In the unlikely event of a leak, propane becomes a vapour that does not contaminate the soil, air or aquifers, unlike liquid fuels. Propane dissipates quickly into the atmosphere – a small amount of air movement is enough to disperse the vapour.
This is especially important when operating in environmentally sensitive areas such as farms, nature reserves or by water.
No Fugitive Emission Impacts
‘Fugitive emissions’ is a term for gas that escapes into the atmosphere before it is combusted. Propane is a smart environmental choice when it comes to such emissions, particularly when compared to natural gas, as it is not a greenhouse gas and has no impact on the atmosphere if accidently released prior to combustion.
Natural gas (methane) however, is a potent greenhouse gas in its unburnt state. Up to 5% of natural gas is inadvertently released during transmission, prior to use. This unburnt methane generates 25 times more greenhouse impact on the atmosphere than CO2.
Climate Change Policy
Climate Change Solutions
Propane can play a vital role by:
- Helping to lower emissions in our largest emitting sector – transportation – by utilizing low-emission vehicle technology that is available now.
- Strengthening infrastructure resiliency planning and risk management by providing a back-up energy source at vulnerable public facilities.
- Acting as a reliable and portable back-up energy source to be used in conjunction with renewables.
- Lowering emissions and improving health outcomes in rural and remote communities that use diesel or fuel oil.
Where introduced, carbon pricing works best when it is applied broadly and consistently across all sectors, with adjustment costs spread equitably and societal disruption minimized.
Propane is a lower emitter of GHGs than other carbon-based fuels, meaning it must be given a lower emission cost in any carbon pricing program. This ensures the goal of the program is recognized, and the end user is incented to reduce GHG emissions.
Interested in finding out more?
Check out our printable fact sheet: