Sulphur Oxide Emissions

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Sulphur oxide (SOX) emissions decreased by 5%, or 64 kilotonnes (kt), from 2013 emission levels to 1142 kt in 2014. Emissions of SOX in 2014 were 1963 kt (63%) lower than in 1990.

This significant drop in SOX emissions is due in large part to government actions to fight acid rain, and related federal-provincial and United States agreements Footnote [1],Footnote [2] on capping SOX emissions by 1994. Further reductions were also realized through:

  • technological upgrades and new air pollution controls for non-ferrous metal smelters;
  • lower emissions from fossil-fuel-fired (e.g., coal-fired) power-generating utilities as a result of better removal technologies and plant closures;
  • improved emission controls for the petroleum refining sector; and
  • the implementation of low-sulphur fuels.Footnote [3]

Sulphur oxide emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2014

Line chart

Long description

The line chart shows sulphur oxide emissions in Canada from 1990 to 2014.

Data for this chart
Sulphur oxide emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2014
YearSulphur oxides
(annual national emissions in kilotonnes)
19903105.5
19912884.1
19922761.6
19932682.8
19942474.7
19952589.9
19962596.0
19972550.6
19982497.8
19992403.8
20002409.7
20012396.1
20022344.3
20032291.7
20042262.6
20052192.7
20061999.0
20071938.5
20081751.9
20091481.0
20101373.0
20111277.7
20121242.0
20131206.3
20141142.5

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 796 B)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator only reports air pollutant emissions from human-related sources.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) Air Pollutant Emission Inventory.

Sources of sulphur oxide emissions

In 2014, the largest proportion of SOX emissions came from non-ferrous smelting and refining, representing 33% (373 kt) of total emissions. Emissions from the use of fuel for electricity and heating, and the oil and gas industry, emitted the next largest proportions, both representing 24% (278 kt and 271 kt) of national emissions. The largest reduction in emissions between the years 1990 and 2014 was from non-ferrous smelting and refining, with an emissions reduction of 902 kt. The installation of newer technologies or processes at facilities, along with the closure of three major smelters in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec contributed to the decline.

Sulphur oxide emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2014

Stacked area chart

Long description

The stacked area chart shows sulphur oxide emissions in Canada by source for the years 1990 to 2014. The emissions are expressed in kilotonnes.

Data for this chart
Sulphur oxide emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2014
YearNon-ferrous smelting and refining
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Fuel for electricity and heating
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Oil and gas industry
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Other industries
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Other sources
(emissions in kilotonnes)
19901272.1664.8533.8437.5197.0
19911119.4627.7535.5410.2191.4
1992973.9646.5574.7374.1192.3
1993895.1586.6604.9393.3202.9
1994681.3593.4598.3390.0211.6
1995888.9557.0593.7366.3184.0
1996878.3569.7590.6372.9184.4
1997821.1618.8547.1373.7189.9
1998830.8631.4513.1346.8175.8
1999770.1628.6509.2318.7177.2
2000763.5649.7504.4311.3180.8
2001757.7656.0489.0306.8186.6
2002754.8644.0453.3306.7185.4
2003655.6670.6475.0321.3169.3
2004703.0591.0468.1335.1165.3
2005683.1557.8464.6321.5165.7
2006668.9483.3437.5261.1148.2
2007623.7519.7406.9247.5140.7
2008570.1445.9382.3219.6134.0
2009401.3399.1372.1179.3129.1
2010372.6347.7339.4186.2127.1
2011333.4309.3333.1191.2110.7
2012342.3300.4321.6186.791.0
2013370.0287.1305.3171.872.0
2014373.0277.8271.3167.552.7

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.70 KB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator only reports air pollutant emissions from human-related sources. 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. "Other sources" include off-road vehicles, home firewood burning, incineration and miscellaneous, transportation (road, rail, air and marine) and open sources (e.g., landfills). Consult table 1 in the Data Sources and Methods for a complete list of the air pollutant emissions sources included under each category.
Source: Environment Canada (2015) Air Pollutant Emission Inventory.

Sulphur oxide emissions by province and territory

Alberta had the highest SOX emissions level in 2014, representing 26% (291 kt) of total national emissions (1142 kt). SOX emissions in Alberta mainly came from the oil and gas industry, and electricity power-generating plants. Ontario, with the second-highest emission level, contributed 23% (259 kt) of national emissions, mainly from non-ferrous smelting and refining, and the oil and gas industry. Manitoba ranked third, with 14% (158 kt) of national SOX emissions; non-ferrous smelting and refining was the most important source of emissions in that province. Ontario experienced the sharpest reduction in emissions between 1990 and 2014, mainly due to emission reductions from non-ferrous smelting and refining, and electricity power-generating plants.

Sulphur oxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990, 2000 and 2014

Bar chart

Long description

The bar chart shows 1990, 2000 and 2014 sulphur oxide emissions in Canada by province and territory.

Data for this chart
Sulphur oxide emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990, 2000 and 2014
Province or territory1990
(emissions in kilotonnes)
2000
(emissions in kilotonnes)
2014
(emissions in kilotonnes)
Newfoundland and Labrador79.565.625.5
Prince Edward Island4.12.50.7
Nova Scotia214.0201.775.5
New Brunswick109.9123.422.0
Quebec266.4324.0123.7
Ontario1149.9594.3259.1
Manitoba510.4362.7158.4
Saskatchewan100.6121.5106.2
Alberta522.5492.3291.1
British Columbia127.9117.478.5
Yukon1.10.6<0.1
Northwest Territories and Nunavut19.33.51.7

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 955 B)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator only reports air pollutant emissions from human-related sources.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) Air Pollutant Emission Inventory.

Sulphur oxide emissions from facilities

Environment Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) provides detailed information on air pollutant emissions from industrial and commercial 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 zoom in to local areas and obtain details on SOX emissions specific to reporting facilities.

Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) National Pollutant Release Inventory Online Data Search – Facility Reported Data.

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