Greenhouse Gas Emissions per Person and per Unit Gross Domestic Product

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Two ways to analyze how greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relate to socio-economic developments in Canada are:

  1. the amount of GHGs emitted per person (GHGs per capita), and
  2. the amount of GHGs per unit of gross domestic product (GHG intensity of the economy).

These indicators show the relationship between the size of Canada's population and the amount of GHGs emitted, and how efficiently sectors in the economy are minimizing GHG emissions while producing goods and services for our consumption and export.

The level of emissions per unit of gross domestic product was 33% lower in 2015 than in 1990. Over that period, GHGs per unit of gross domestic product decreased from 0.62 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq) per $billion gross domestic productFootnote 1 in 1990 to 0.41 Mt CO2 eq per $billion gross domestic product in 2015. The amount of GHGs emitted per person in Canada decreased to 20.1 tonnes CO2 eq in 2015, compared with 22.1 tonnes CO2 eq in 1990.

These improvements are attributable to a number of factors such as more efficient industrial processes, a shift to a more service-based economy and a decrease in the emissions associated with energy generation (such as those realized through fuel switching).

Indexed trend in greenhouse gas emissions per person and per unit of gross domestic product, Canada, 1990 to 2015

Indexed line chart showing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions per person and per unit of gross domestic product - long description below

Long description

The indexed line chart illustrates Canada's greenhouse gas emissions per person and per unit of gross domestic product from 1990 to 2015 as a percent of 1990. Emissions per person are expressed in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per person. Emissions per unit of gross domestic product are expressed in megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per $billion gross domestic product.

Data for this chart
Indexed trend in greenhouse gas emissions per person and per unit of gross domestic product, Canada, 1990 to 2015
YearGreenhouse gases per capita (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per person)Indexed greenhouse gases per capita (percent of 1990 level)Greenhouse gas intensity (megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per $billion gross domestic product)Indexed greenhouse gas intensity (percent of 1990 level)
199022.1100.00.62100.0
199121.597.60.62100.9
199221.999.20.63102.9
199321.798.40.62100.7
199422.2100.70.6199.3
199522.6102.30.6199.3
199623.0104.40.62100.8
199723.3105.60.6198.6
199823.3105.80.5995.9
199923.6106.80.5792.5
200024.1109.00.5690.3
200123.5106.30.5487.8
200223.3105.50.5385.6
200323.7107.30.5386.1
200423.5106.50.5283.8
200522.9103.80.4979.9
200622.4101.40.4777.0
200722.8103.30.4877.4
200821.999.40.4674.6
200920.592.80.4572.8
201020.693.40.4471.9
201120.693.40.4370.4
201220.693.40.4370.2
201320.794.00.4369.8
201420.592.70.4267.8
201520.191.30.4166.8

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The graph presents the ratio of annual GHG emissions per person and per unit of gross domestic product relative to those values in 1990 (i.e., the values are indexed to 1990). Greenhouse gas per unit of gross domestic product is calculated using real inflation-adjusted gross domestic product in 2007 dollars. Emission levels for some years have been revised in light of improvements to estimation methods and availability of new data.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2017) National Inventory Report 1990–2015: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada. Statistics Canada. Table 051-0001 – Estimates of population, by age group and sex for July 1, Canada, provinces and territories, annual. Statistics Canada. Table 380-0106 – Gross domestic product at 2007 constant prices, expenditure-based, annual.

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Other information

FSDS Icon - Effective action on climate change Effective action on climate change

This indicator supports the measurement of progress towards the long-term goal of the 2016–2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy: A low-carbon economy contributes to limiting global average temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius and supports efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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