A Climate Change Plan for the Purposes of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act -- May 2009

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Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions continue on a gradual upward trend even as numbers fluctuate on a year to year basis. Overall emissions declined in 2006, shifted upward in 2007 and are expected to level off or decline again in 2008 and 2009 due to a number of factors such as weather patterns and the economic downturn.

According to the latest National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, total greenhouse gas emissions in Canada in 2007 were about 747 megatonnes (Mt) CO2 eq, an increase of 4% from 2006 (718 Mt)1.

Figure S-3: Sectoral Breakdown of Canada’s GHG Emissions, 2007

Figure S-3: Sectoral Breakdown of Canada’s GHG Emissions, 2007

The growth in emissions from 2006 can be largely attributed to a significant increase (6%) in emissions from fossil fuel production, a 7.7% increase in emissions from electricity & heat generation, a 38.5% increase in the emissions from mining, and a 9.5% increase in emissions from residential (heating).

On a national average, the winter of 2007 was colder than that of 2006. Heating degree days (a measure of the amount of energy required for heating buildings) increased by 10%, leading to a similar growth in the requirement of heating fuel, and as a result, growth in greenhouse gas emissions from the residential and commercial sectors. Transport emissions also rose due to increased use of sport utility vehicles, vans, pick-up trucks and heavy duty diesel freight trucks, as well as off-road vehicles (primarily for the mining and oil and gas industries).

As a result of the global economic recession, the pace of economic growth over the remainder of the Kyoto Protocol period is uncertain and difficult to forecast. However, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are expected to remain relatively stable or trend downward during the 2008 and 2009 period due to the economic slowdown, but will start to rise thereafter2 , though at a slower rate than previously forecasted. With no new actions from governments or industry to control emissions growth, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions would average some 757 Mt per year between 2008 and 2012.

Of note, in 2008, Canada’s official emission totals for all inventory years (1990-2006) were reduced by approximately 4-5 Mt as a result of methodological improvements recommended by the UN Expert Review team in February 2008. Additional methodological changes were made for the 2009 submission, with methodological changes leading to a slight decline in emissions reported for the 2004-2006 period as compared to those reported in 2008. The overall trend since 1990, however, remains unchanged.

While there have been relatively minor and short-lived dips in Canada’s historical emissions (for example, in 1991 due to an economic recession, and in 2001 due to the impacts of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001), in general, emissions have grown at an average rate of 1.5% from 1990 to 2005.3

Canada's Kyoto Protocol Target

In accordance with the UNFCCC, an Expert Review Team (ERT) reviewed Canada’s initial report during a visit to Ottawa in November 2007. On February 18, 2008, the ERT sent an assessment with recommended methodological improvements that, as noted earlier, resulted in a downward revision of emissions about 4-5 Mt for each year of the 1990 to 2004 period.

In the initial report, Canada’s Kyoto Protocol base year (1990) emissions were estimated to be 599 Mt. Canada’s 1990 emission have been subsequently been revised downward again to 592 Mt. However, under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol, Canada’s target was frozen at a 6% reduction from 1990 levels as calculated last year. As a result Canada’s Kyoto Protocol target (or its “assigned amount”) remains as it was stated in last year’s report – 2,792 Mt for the five-year commitment period.

1 Information on Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks: Canada’s 2007 Greenhouse Gas Inventory - A Summary of Trends

2 Business as usual levels refer to the expected levels of economic growth and energy demand that would exist if no new action were to be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

3 Initial Report Review, 1990-2005

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