Sulphur Oxide Emissions

In 2011, sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions decreased by 95 kilotonnes (kt) from 2010 emission levels to 1274 kt, a decrease of 7%. SOx emissions in 2011 were 1927 kt (60%) lower than in 1990.

There has been a significant drop in SOx emissions, due in large part to government actions to fight acid rain and federal-provincial and United States agreements on capping SOx emissions by 1994. Reductions were also realized through technological upgrades and new air pollution controls for base metal smelters and fossil-fuel-fired electricity generation plants, as well as through plant closures. Further emissions reductions were achieved through the implementation of low-sulphur fuels.

Sulphur oxide emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2011

Sulphur oxide emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2011

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Emissions from natural sources (e.g., forest fires) and open sources (e.g., prescribed burning) are not included in the indicator.
Source: Environment Canada (2013) National Pollutant Release Inventory: Air Pollutant Emissions Summaries and Trends.

Sources of sulphur oxide emissions

In 2011 the largest proportion of SOx emissions came from fuel for electricity and heating, representing 27% (339 kt) of total emissions, followed by non-ferrous smelting and refining, representing 26% (333 kt) of total emissions. The oil and gas industry emitted 25% (313 kt) of the national emissions.

Sulphur oxide emissions by source, Canada, 2011

Sulphur oxide emissions by source, Canada, 2011

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Emissions from natural sources (e.g., forest fires) and open sources (e.g., prescribed burning) are not included in the indicator.
*The source "Other Industries" does not include SOx emissions from non-ferrous smelting and refining, as it is presented for the purpose of this chart as a stand-alone source.
Source: Environment Canada (2013) National Pollutant Release Inventory: Air Pollutant Emissions Summaries and Trends.

Sulphur oxide emissions by province and territory

Alberta had the highest SOx emissions level in 2011, representing 27% (345 kt) of total national emissions (national emissions = 1274 kt). SOx emissions in Alberta mainly came from the oil and gas industry and electric power-generating plants. Ontario, with the second-highest emission level, contributed 21% (272 kt) of national emissions, mainly from non-ferrous smelting and refining, and iron and steel industries. Quebec ranked third, with 13% (166 kt) of national SOx emissions; the aluminum industry was the most important source of emissions in that province.

Sulphur oxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 2011

Sulphur oxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 2011

View data for this chart
How this indicator was calculated

Note: Emissions from natural sources (e.g., forest fires) and open sources (e.g., prescribed burning) are not included in the indicator.
Source: Environment Canada (2013) National Pollutant Release Inventory: Air Pollutant Emissions Summaries and Trends.

Sulphur oxide emissions from industrial facilities

Environment Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) provides detailed information on air pollutant emissions from industrial facilities. The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program provides access to this information through an online interactive map.

With the CESI interactive map, you can drill down to local areas and obtain details on SOx emissions specific to reporting industrial facilities.

Source: Environment Canada (2013) National Pollutant Release Inventory: Facility Reported Data.

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