Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector

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In 2014, Canada's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissionsFootnote [1] were 732 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq). The oil and gas sector was the largest GHG emitter in Canada, accounting for 192 Mt CO2 eq (26% of total emissions), followed closely by the transportation sector, which emitted 171 Mt CO2 eq (23%). The other economic sectors (i.e., electricity, buildings, emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries,Footnote [2] agriculture, and waste and others), each accounted for between 7% and 12% of total GHG emissions in Canada.

The increase in GHG emissions between 1990 and 2014 was mostly due to a 79% (85 Mt CO2 eq) increase in emissions in the oil and gas sector and a 32% (42 Mt CO2 eq) increase in the transportation sector. These increases were offset by a 17 Mt CO2 eq decrease in emissions in the electricity sector and a 19 Mt CO2 eq decrease in emissions from emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries.

Greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector, Canada, 1990 to 2014

Stacked area chart

Long description

The stacked area chart shows greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by economic sector from 1990 to 2014. The emissions are expressed in megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Data for this chart
Greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector, Canada, 1990 to 2014
YearOil and gas
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Transportation
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Electricity
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Buildings
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Agriculture
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Waste and others
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
1990107.2129.494.773.395.556.556.3
1991105.7124.696.172.595.156.455.3
1992115.5126.9102.574.091.858.154.0
1993121.7129.393.277.790.859.652.3
1994126.4135.795.378.296.261.652.7
1995132.9137.598.279.098.364.655.0
1996140.1139.098.285.199.167.156.0
1997141.1145.0109.482.498.867.056.7
1998146.8149.5121.975.094.067.053.9
1999155.9153.7119.178.792.267.654.5
2000158.6155.9128.885.192.168.555.3
2001158.7156.9129.681.886.266.553.8
2002160.8158.7123.586.587.365.454.1
2003164.0163.1127.091.586.068.554.8
2004162.8167.3119.289.890.270.256.7
2005159.4170.6117.885.488.270.255.9
2006163.0170.6112.180.488.469.054.7
2007167.8173.2117.785.987.570.356.0
2008161.7171.4108.685.485.770.955.5
2009160.0167.994.083.572.166.752.1
2010162.1172.595.080.574.567.953.8
2011163.9170.486.886.179.268.754.7
2012176.1171.483.284.178.870.054.7
2013187.2174.380.384.676.873.354.9
2014192.3171.378.287.276.572.954.1

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The "Waste and others" sector consists of emissions from light manufacturing, construction, forest resources, waste, and coal production. The "Emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries" sector consists of emissions from mining, smelting and refining, pulp and paper, iron and steel, cement, lime and gypsum, and chemicals and fertilizers.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) National Inventory Report 1990–2014: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector

In 2014, the oil and gas sector was the largest source of GHG emissions, accounting for 26% of total national emissions.

Emissions of GHGs from the oil and gas sector have increased 79% from 107 Mt CO2 eq in 1990 to 192 Mt CO2 eq in 2014. This increase is mostly attributable to the increased production of crude oil and the expansion of the oil sands industry.

Greenhouse gas emissions from conventional oil production have increased by 45%, while emissions from oil sands production have increased more than fourfold. About half of the increase in emissions from oil sands production between 1990 and 2014 came from the growth of in-situ production.

A temporary decrease in GHG emissions in the sector between 2008 and 2011 is mostly attributable to the world economic downturn that resulted in a lower global demand for petroleum products.

Oil and gas sector greenhouse gas emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2014

Stacked area chart

Long description

The stacked area chart shows greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector in Canada by type of activity from 1990 to 2014. The emissions are expressed in megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Data for this chart
Oil and gas sector greenhouse gas emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2014
YearOil sands – upgrading
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Oil sands – in situ
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Oil sands – mining and extraction
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Conventional oil
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Natural gas
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Other
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
19907.93.04.424.535.731.7
19918.03.34.623.734.831.3
199210.63.15.025.936.934.0
199311.73.35.227.139.135.4
199412.73.35.428.341.235.5
199514.02.74.831.043.137.2
199612.83.65.332.045.440.9
199712.63.76.134.543.141.1
199812.93.86.436.047.140.5
199913.83.66.736.255.739.9
200013.94.06.638.559.835.9
200114.04.77.837.260.134.8
200214.84.18.436.261.835.5
200314.66.79.134.464.434.8
200417.17.89.832.959.635.5
200516.58.09.731.158.535.7
200618.69.611.231.257.435.0
200718.211.911.931.760.234.0
200816.814.211.930.156.931.8
200919.715.513.128.752.230.9
201019.018.914.829.150.729.5
201120.319.915.130.249.928.5
201220.723.615.832.253.230.5
201321.325.916.434.557.231.9
201420.230.117.535.556.532.3

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Conventional oil includes production from frontier, light and heavy oil fields. The "Other" category includes downstream oil and gas emissions (combustion and fugitive emissions from the production of refined petroleum products and the distribution of natural gas to end consumers) and oil and gas transmission emissions (combustion and fugitive emissions from transmission, storage and delivery activities). Totals may not add up due to rounding.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) National Inventory Report 1990–2014: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada.

Between 1990 and 2014, crude oil production more than doubled in Canada. This was mostly driven by a rapid increase in production from the oil sands, which are more GHG‑intensive than conventional sources. This change thus had a major impact on total GHG emissions from the sector.

During the same period, production of natural gas from unconventional sources, such as those requiring the use of multi-stage fracturing techniques, also increased significantly.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector

In 2014, the transportation sector was the second largest source of GHG emissions, accounting for 23% (171 Mt CO2 eq) of total national emissions. Emissions from passenger and freight travel amounted to 95% of these emissions, or 95 Mt CO2 eq and 68 Mt CO2 eq of transportation emissions, respectively.

Between 1990 and 2014, GHG emissions from the transportation sector grew by 32%. Part of this increase was due to changes in vehicle type used. While total passenger emissions grew by 15%, emissions from cars declined by 30%, while emissions from light trucks (including trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles) increased by 123%. Freight travel emissions grew by 86% between 1990 and 2014, with emissions from freight trucks increasing by 132% and emissions from other modes of freight transportation increasing by 2%.

Transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2014

Stack area chart

Long description

The stacked area chart shows greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector in Canada by mode of transportation from 1990 to 2014. The emissions are expressed in megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Data for this chart
Transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2014
YearPassenger cars
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Passenger light trucks
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Passenger aviation, bus, rail and motorcycle
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Freight trucks
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Freight aviation, rail and marine
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Other
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
199051.822.38.523.612.810.5
199149.822.67.722.612.49.4
199250.124.17.823.112.59.3
199350.225.47.424.711.99.8
199449.527.37.429.212.410.1
199548.828.37.930.211.510.7
199647.329.48.430.011.512.4
199747.332.18.632.411.713.0
199846.134.58.734.412.113.5
199947.236.39.235.212.413.4
200046.737.09.336.412.713.9
200146.837.88.937.813.012.5
200247.139.38.838.412.612.5
200346.640.49.140.013.413.6
200446.241.89.642.714.013.0
200545.542.78.948.014.111.4
200645.043.88.449.814.49.3
200744.744.89.051.914.97.9
200843.544.78.752.315.07.2
200942.745.58.052.312.37.1
201042.147.18.053.214.18.0
201139.946.87.953.413.98.7
201238.747.88.854.614.07.6
201339.050.29.055.413.27.4
201436.149.78.954.713.08.8

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The "Other" category includes other recreational, commercial and residential uses. Totals may not add up due to rounding.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) National Inventory Report 1990–2014: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada.

Passenger and freight travel emissions are influenced by a variety of factors, including population and economic growth, vehicle type, fuel efficiency, and fuel type. Changes in the mix of vehicle type used, such as the increasing preference of passenger vehicle owners to choose light trucks rather than more fuel-efficient passenger cars, played an important role in shaping the evolution of GHG emissions. Since 1990, the increase in the number of light trucks has been more than three times greater than the increase in the numbers of the overall fleet of passenger on-road vehicles.

At the same time, there have been continual improvements in the fuel efficiency of both passenger cars and light trucks over the last few decades.Footnote [3] However, these improvements were not sufficient to offset the increases in emissions due to the change in composition of the vehicle fleet.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector

In 2014, the electricity sector was the fourth largest source of GHG emissions, accounting for 11% of total national emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from combustion-based electricity generation have decreased from 95 Mt CO2 eq in 1990 to 78 Mt CO2 eq in 2014, a decrease of 17% over the period. The growing share of electricity generated from non-GHG-emitting sources (such as hydro, nuclear and other renewables) and from fuels less GHG-intensive than coal contributed to this decline in GHG emissions.

Electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2014

Stacked area chart

Long description

The stacked area chart shows greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector in Canada by source of fuel from 1990 to 2014. The emissions are expressed in megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Data for this chart
Electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2014
YearCoal
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Natural gas
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Other
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
199080.52.711.5
199184.42.29.4
199287.44.410.7
199380.05.47.9
199483.75.36.3
199584.96.27.0
199686.85.56.0
199793.76.98.8
199899.79.312.9
199999.69.110.5
2000108.111.09.7
2001106.411.311.8
2002104.59.29.7
2003103.09.814.2
200495.89.314.1
200597.38.911.5
200693.39.79.0
200798.89.29.7
200892.88.57.2
200977.88.77.5
201078.611.45.0
201168.613.84.3
201263.315.64.3
201363.811.94.6
201461.611.74.8

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The "Other" category includes diesel fuel oil, heavy fuel oil, light fuel oil, motor gasoline, petroleum coke, own use of primary electricity, solid wood waste and still gas.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) National Inventory Report 1990–2014: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada.

Electricity generation technologies have various levels of GHG emission intensity (which is defined as the quantity of GHGs emitted per unit of electricity produced). Hydroelectricity and nuclear power emit no GHGs when generating electricity, while coal-burning power plants have a higher GHG intensity than natural gas-burning power plants. A change in the mix of plant types used to produce electricity contributed to a decline in the GHG intensity of electricity generation from 220 to 150 grams of CO2 eq per kilowatt-hour from 1990 to 2013.

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