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National Inventory Report 1990-2010: Executive Summary
Table of Contents
- ES.1 Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory: Context
- ES.2 Summary of National GHG Emissions and Trends
- ES.3 Overview of Source and Sink Category Emissions and Trends
- ES.4 Provincial and Territorial GHG Emissions
- ES.5 National System and Quality Management
- ES.6 Structure of Submission
ES.1 Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory: Context
As stated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment Report, warming of the climate system is unequivocal (IPCC 2007). Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. The contribution of human activities to enhancing the greenhouse effect has been recognized worldwide by both the scientific and policy communities.
The ultimate objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is to achieve stabilization of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. In support of this goal, articles 4 and 12 and Decision 3/CP.5 of the Convention commit all Parties to develop, periodically update, publish and make available to the Conference of the Parties national inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of all GHGs not controlled by the Montreal Protocol. Development and maintenance of a national inventory submission is a key obligation of UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol signatories.
Canada’s National Inventory Submission is the annual communication through which Canada meets its annual reporting obligations under the UNFCCC, and demonstrates compliance with monitoring and reporting requirements under the Kyoto Protocol. The National Inventory Submission also serves as the authoritative indicator and basis of comparison of national performance. It is a source of reliable, detailed information for Canadians on key emission trends for specific sources, sectors and regions; and provides a core set of data for setting baseline emissions and further analysis.
Canada’s 2012 National Inventory Submission to the UNFCCC has been prepared in accordance with the UNFCCC Guidelines on annual inventories, Decision 18/CP 8, 15/CMP.1 and other relevant decisions.
Canada is committed to tackling climate change through sustained action to build a low-carbon economy that includes reaching a global agreement, working with our North American partners and taking action domestically. Under the Copenhagen Accord, Canada has committed to reducing its GHG emissions to 17% below the 2005 level by the year 2020. Canada’s target of 607 megatonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq) of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the year 2020 is based on the 2005 emissions reported in The National Inventory Report: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada 1990–2008, published in April 2010.
ES.2 Summary of National GHG Emissions and Trends
In 2010, the most recent annual dataset in this report, Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions were estimated to be 692 Mt CO2 eq, an increase of approximately 2 Mt (0.25%) from the 2009 level of 690 Mt. Since 2005, Canadian GHG emissions have decreased by 48 Mt (6.5%).
Canada’s emissions in 2010 were 102 Mt (17%) above the 1990 total of 589 Mt (Figure S-1). Steady increases in annual emissions characterized the first 15 years of this period, followed by fluctuating emission levels between 2005 and 2008, and a steep drop in 2009 with emissions somewhat stabilizing in 2010.
Figure S-1: Canadian Emissions in 1990–2010*
*The 607-Mt target is equal to 17% below the 2005 emissions level of 731 Mt reported in The National Inventory Report: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada 1990–2008, published in April 2010.
Changes in emission trends since 1997–2000 can be attributed to increases in efficiency, the modernization of industrial processes, and structural changes in the composition of the economy, which are long-term trends that have had an increased impact on emissions since the late 1990s.
The structural changes have involved a shift from an industrial-oriented economy to a more service-based economy. Between 2000 and 2008, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the service industries rose by 28%, while heavy industries and manufacturing together grew by only 3%. Service industries have a much lower economic GHG intensity than that of the goods-producing industries, so this ongoing change has lowered Canadian GHG emissions.
Together, efficiency increases and technological and structural changes have resulted in a continuing weakening of the link between GDP growth and emissions, so that the GHG intensity of the economy has decreased on average by 2.2% per year since 1996 (see Figure S-2). This has resulted in the decoupling of economic growth and emissions.
The change in the rate of growth in emissions since about 1997–2000 is notable and can be specifically attributed to the following factors:
- A levelling off of emissions from electric power generation, which had been rising rapidly until then. In 2000, coal generation was at or close to its highest level ever. Since then, the contribution of coal-fired generation to the electricity supply mix has been declining (Statistics Canada 2011a).
- The increased prevalence of energy efficiency and emission reduction programs, including federal programs such as the eco Energy retrofit program and its predecessors, and renewable energy incentives such as the federal Wind Power Production Incentive (WPPI), which commenced in 2002 (IEA 2011).
- The peak in the production of conventional oil in 1998 in Canada and the levelling off of gas production in 2002 (Statistics Canada 2011b). In both cases, this was the result of limited conventional reserves. More recently, conventional oil and natural gas production has fallen, which has reduced fugitive emissions and has offset the impact of rising non-conventional production to some extent.
Figure S-2: Indexed Trend in GHG Emissions and GHG Emissions Intensity, 1990–2010
While Canada represented only about 2% of total global GHG emissions in 2005 (CAIT 2012), it is one of the highest per capita emitters, largely as a result of its size, climate (i.e. energy demands due to climate), and resource-based economy. In 1990, Canadians released 21.3 tonnes (t) of GHGs per capita. In 2005, this had risen to 22.9 tonnes (t) of GHGs per capita; however, by 2010, it had dropped to 20.3 t of GHGs per capita (Statistics Canada 2011c) (Figure S-3).
Figure S-3: Canadian Per Capita Emissions 1990–2010
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2Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all emission estimates given in Mt represent emissions of GHGs in Mt CO2 equivalent.
- Date Modified: