Canada's Greenhouse Gas Emissions
As part of its commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Canada must submit an annual national greenhouse gas emissions inventory. These inventories must be prepared according to UNFCCC reporting guidelines. Environment Canada develops and publishes Canada's annual greenhouse gas inventory, estimating emissions for the following greenhouse gases:
- carbon dioxide (CO2)
- methane (CH4)
- nitrous oxide (N2O)
- sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)
- perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
- hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
Total greenhouse gas emissions are expressed in units of CO2 equivalent (CO2e), which includes methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and three other gases converted into the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) based on each gas's relative ability to trap heat.
Canada's Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Since 1990, the year that most countries use as their starting point or baseline for reporting greenhouse gas emissions, Canada's total emissions have risen by 19.6 per cent from 607 Mt CO2e to 726 Mt CO2e in 2000. This is about 2 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions, but on a per-capita basis, our emissions place Canada seventh in the world and second among large countries. By clicking on the table below, you will see a summary of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2000, along with provincial and territorial greenhouse gas emissions for the same period.
Canada's provinces and territories vary widely in their greenhouse gas emissions. The chart below compares 1990 and 2000 emissions for each province and territory. Environment Canada provides a more detailed online analysis of provincial and territorial emissions by sector. Alberta's emissions rose 30 per cent from 1990 to 2000, from 171 Mt to 223 Mt of CO2e, much of which is related to increased production of petroleum products for export.
Total Provincial and Territorial Greenhouse Gas Emissions, 1990 and 2000
The chart below shows the composition of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide comprises the lion's share of 2000 emissions at 79 per cent, followed by methane and nitrous oxide. The remaining three gases made up less than 1 per cent each.
Canada's Greenhouse Gas Emissions, by Gas (2000)
Emission sources - Where Canada's greenhouse gas emissions come from 15
Canada's inventory uses an internationally-agreed upon reporting format that estimates emissions from six sectors:
- Industrial Processes
- Solvents and Other Product Use
- Land-Use Change and Forestry
About 73 per cent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in 2000 came from the combustion of fossil fuels, with another 7.4 per cent from fugitive emissions, for a total of nearly 81 per cent from the energy sector. The energy
sector includes emissions of all greenhouse gases from the production of fossil fuels and their combustion for the main purpose of delivering energy.
Landfill emissions of methane increased by nearly 22 per cent from 1990 to 2000, despite better landfill gas capture and combustion, which grew almost 33 per cent during the same time.
The "industrial processes" sector includes greenhouse gas emissions that are a direct by-product of such processes. In 2000, industrial process emissions were about 7 per cent of Canada's total (51 Mt) and came from a diversity of sources: mineral
products, chemicals, metal production, consumption of SF6, and others.
Although Canada complies with the UNFCCC reporting requirements for its emissions, Environment Canada has used a modified sector approach, as shown in the table below, to make the information more accessible. This table shows how Canada's greenhouse gas emissions have changed in each sector in the last decade.
In the pie chart below, the electricity and petroleum industries have been separated and emissions from road vehicles have been separated from the full transportation category to show the relative amounts of emissions produced by each sector in 2000.
Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by broad sector (2000) 16
Environment Canada's detailed national summary of emissions for 1990-2000, using the specific categories as required in the UNFCCC emissions reporting process, is also online.