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Canada's black carbon inventory - 2017 edition

Executive summary

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Black carbon (BC) is a short-lived, small aerosol (or airborne) particle linked to both climate warming and adverse health effects. Black carbon emissions have recently become a focus of attention due to their effects on the near-term warming of the atmosphere and on human health. Reducing black carbon emissions is of particular interest in polar regions, such as the Arctic, which are especially sensitive to the effects of black carbon.

Established in 2016, the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change is a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions across all sectors of Canada’s economy, as well as to stimulate clean economic growth, and build resilience to the impacts of climate change, which sets Canada on a firm path towards achieving our Paris Agreement emissions targets. Meeting those targets require taking action on long-lived GHGs such as carbon dioxide and short-lived climate forcers such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons and black carbon.

During Canada’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2013–2015), the Council promoted actions to achieve enhanced reductions of black carbon and methane emissions. A framework for action was agreed to in April 2015 that included a commitment from all Arctic states to develop and improve emission inventories for black carbon using, where possible, relevant guidelines from the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). Environment ministers from Arctic states had previously agreed that these inventories could be voluntarily submitted under the CLRTAP. This report presents the results of Canada’s third annual inventory of black carbon emissions. Emissions in this inventory are grouped according to the following sources:Footnote 1

  • Ore and Mineral Industries
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Electric Power Generation (Utilities)
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation and Mobile Equipment
  • Agriculture
  • Commercial / Residential / Institutional

In 2015, approximately 38 kilotonnes (kt) of black carbon were emitted in Canada, which is less than the revised 2014 emissions of 41 kt (Table ES–1). Transportation and mobile equipment are by far the most important sources of black carbon in Canada, accounting for 22 kt (57.3%) of total emissions in 2015. Among transportation and mobile equipment, off-road diesel engines account for 11 kt (29.7% of the total emissions). The other large source in this category is diesel engines used for on-road transport, which account for 5.7 kt (14.9%) of total emissions.

Commercial/Residential/Institutional sources are the second-largest contributor to black carbon emissions in Canada, representing emissions of 12.6 kt, or 33.0% of total emissions in 2015. Home firewood burning is the largest source in this category, representing 11.5 kt of emissions, or 30.1% of total 2015 emissions. Wood is an abundant fuel in Canada; it is estimated that 14 million tonnes of wood are burned annually in Canadian homes. More information on the estimation methods can be found in Section 2.2.

The sources included in this third annual inventory are estimated to account for at least 90% of anthropogenic black carbon emissions. Work will continue to improve the completeness and accuracy of the inventory, quantifying the emissions that are not captured yet, and refining base data and estimation techniques.

All emissions reported in this inventory are from anthropogenic (human) sources. Natural sources of black carbon, such as wildfires, are not included.

Table ES-1: Canadian black carbon emissions by sector (2013-2015) (tonnes)
SourceSectorSubsectorBlack carbon
Black carbon
Black carbon
Ore and Mineral IndustriesNot applicableNot applicable502462449
Ore and Mineral IndustriesAluminium IndustryNot applicable514637
Ore and Mineral IndustriesCement and Concrete IndustryNot applicable211821
Ore and Mineral IndustriesFoundriesNot applicable0.0600.0600.050
Ore and Mineral IndustriesMining and Rock QuarryingNot applicable431398391
Oil and Gas IndustryNot applicableNot applicable2,4022,8512,556
Oil and Gas IndustryUpstream Petroleum IndustryNot applicable2,4022,8512,556
Oil and Gas IndustryUpstream Petroleum IndustryBitumen and Heavy Oil Upgrading475811526
Oil and Gas IndustryUpstream Petroleum IndustryDisposal and Waste Treatment5.86.35.2
Oil and Gas IndustryUpstream Petroleum IndustryHeavy Crude Oil Cold Production115116114
Oil and Gas IndustryUpstream Petroleum IndustryLight Medium Crude Oil Production738781789
Oil and Gas IndustryUpstream Petroleum IndustryNatural Gas Production and Processing765785750
Oil and Gas IndustryUpstream Petroleum IndustryOil Sands In-Situ Extraction and Processing198226244
Oil and Gas IndustryUpstream Petroleum IndustryOil Sands Mining Extraction and Processing354770
Oil and Gas IndustryUpstream Petroleum IndustryPetroleum Liquids Storage0.670.540.63
Oil and Gas IndustryUpstream Petroleum IndustryPetroleum Liquids Transportation2.22.32.3
Oil and Gas IndustryUpstream Petroleum IndustryWell Drilling/Servicing/Testing687654
Electric Power Generation (Utilities)Not applicableNot applicable202226241
Electric Power Generation (Utilities)CoalNot applicable375047
Electric Power Generation (Utilities)Natural GasNot applicable312725
Electric Power Generation (Utilities)DieselNot applicable103115127
Electric Power Generation (Utilities)Other Electric Power GenerationNot applicable323541
ManufacturingNot applicableNot applicable509419434
ManufacturingPulp and Paper IndustryNot applicable277239214
ManufacturingWood ProductsNot applicable233179220
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentNot applicableNot applicable25,77024,29221,929
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentAir TransportationNot applicable676668668
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentMarine TransportationNot applicable2,8132,8131,235
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentOn-Road TransportNot applicable7,4966,9196,404
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentOn-Road TransportDiesel6,7076,1725,679
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentOn-Road TransportGasoline789744722
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentOn-Road TransportLiquid Petroleum Gas0.600.230.19
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentOn-Road TransportCompressed Natural Gas0.263.02.8
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentOff-Road TransportNot applicable12,62711,67411,369
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentOff-Road TransportDiesel12,11011,13410,833
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentOff-Road TransportGasoline, Liquid Petroleum Gas, Compressed Natural Gas517540536
Transportation and Mobile EquipmentRail TransportationNot applicable2,1582,2182,253
AgricultureNot applicableNot applicable232424
AgricultureFuel UseNot applicable232424
Commercial / Residential / InstitutionalNot applicableNot applicable12,69812,68612,610
Commercial / Residential / InstitutionalCommercial and Institutional Fuel CombustionNot applicable832888888
Commercial / Residential / InstitutionalConstruction Fuel CombustionNot applicable363838
Commercial / Residential / InstitutionalHome Firewood BurningNot applicable11,67911,60111,525
Commercial / Residential / InstitutionalHome Firewood BurningFireplaces3,3803,3473,316
Commercial / Residential / InstitutionalHome Firewood BurningFurnaces4,1804,1554,131
Commercial / Residential / InstitutionalHome Firewood BurningWood Stoves4,1204,0984,078
Commercial / Residential / InstitutionalResidential Fuel CombustionNot applicable151160160
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