Skip booklet index and go to page content

Data Sources and Methods for the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Indicators

2. Description and rationale of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions indicators

2.1 Description

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions indicators report trends in anthropogenic (human-made) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the national level (total emissions, emissions per person and emissions per unit of gross domestic product [GDP]),Footnote [1] at the provincial/territorial and at the economic sector level for seven GHGs: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).

Emissions from natural processes (e.g., material decay, plant and animal respiration, volcanic and thermal venting, etc.) and removal of emissions from the atmosphere by natural sinks (forests, oceans), are not captured by these indicators.

2.2 Rationale

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions indicators are used to track the progress of Canada's efforts to lower emissions and reach environmental performance objectives. Use of the GHG indicators in conjunction with economic performance indicators such as the GDP supports national-level decision making on sustainable development.

As an Annex I Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Canada is required to prepare and submit a national inventory of anthropogenic sources and sinks of GHGs on an annual basis.

Since direct measurement of emissions from all sources is not possible, the UNFCCC requires that countries develop, update, publish and maintain national inventories using internationally approved and comparable emissions and removals estimation methods for the seven GHGs. Canada's inventory is developed in accordance with the recently revised UNFCCC Annex I Inventory Reporting Guidelines (PDF; 1.6 MB) which require the use of the 2006 methodological guidance developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC guidelines are based on the best available science and developed through an international process that involves testing of methods through ongoing inventory development, country studies, technical and regional workshops, and national and international experts consultations.

2.3 Recent changes to the indicators

The development of Canada's GHG inventory is based on a continuous process of data collection, methodological refinement and review. Changes in the 2016 National Inventory Report include those implemented for the continuous improvement of Canada's inventory and changes that address recommendations made by the expert review team during the annual review of previous inventories.

Date modified: