This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Goal 1: Climate change – Reduce greenhouse gas emission levels to mitigate the severity and unavoidable impacts of climate change.

Progress towards Goal 1: National greenhouse gas emissions indicator

Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 were 692 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent, or 17% (102 Mt) above the 1990 emissions of 589 Mt. Steady increases in annual emissions characterized the first 15 years of this period, followed by fluctuating by an overall decline in the period for 2005–2010.

According to the International Energy Agency, Canada's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fuel combustion in 2009 accounted for approximately 2% of global emissions.

Canada's GHG emissions are increasingly becoming decoupled from economic growth. Even though the economy grew by 6.3% between 2005 and 2010, GHG emissions decreased by 48 megatonnes (Mt) or 6.5%. Between 2005 and 2010, Canada's GHG emissions for each billion dollars of gross domestic product (GDP) that Canada produced declined by about 12%, and GHG emissions per person have declined by about 11%. These per-capita emissions are at a historic low of 20.3 tonnes (t) of carbon dioxide equivalent per person. This is the lowest level recorded since tracking began in 1990. In 2010, per capita emissions of CO2 were 2.6 t lower than in 2005.

The 2010 GHG emissions were lower in almost every sector of the Canadian economy than 2005 levels. This is a result of factors such as the global economic downturn, changes to energy efficiency technology, changes in energy prices, and a decrease in the energy intensity of the economy. Moreover, federal and provincial government actions to reduce emissions had a significant impact on emissions over this time period.

Relative to 2005, GHG emissions in the public electricity and heat generation sector have decreased by 23 Mt (about 19%); emissions in emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries (e.g., mining, pulp and paper, cement, iron and steel) have decreased by 15 Mt (about 17%); and emissions from the oil and gas sectors (including the oil sands industry) have decreased by 6 Mt (about 4%).

Canada's total GHG emissions in 2010 were 692 Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent, or 17% (102 Mt) above the 1990 emissions of 589 Mt as shown in Figure 2.1. Steady increases in annual emissions characterized the first 15 years of this period, followed by an overall decline in the period for 2005–2010.

Changes in behaviour by consumers and businesses, in part due to federal, provincial and territorial actions, are leading to a decline in emissions intensity. Sectoral shifts in the economy, with higher growth in less emissions intensive sectors outpacing growth in emissions intensive ones, are also contributing to further decoupling of emissions from Canada's gross domestic product.

For the most up-to-date information on this indicator, please visit CESI.

Figure 2.1: National greenhouse gas emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2010

Figure 2.1: National greenhouse gas emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2010

Long description

The line graph shows Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 were 692 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or 17% (102 megatonnes) above the 1990 emissions of 589 megatonnes. Steady increases in annual emissions characterized the first fifteen years of this period, followed by fluctuating emission levels between 2005 and 2008, a steep decline in 2009 with emissions somewhat stabilizing in 2010.

Source: Adapted from the National Inventory Report 1990–2010: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada – Executive Summary.


Date modified: