National Inventory Report 1990-2015: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada - Executive Summary

Table of Contents

ES.1 Introduction

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international treaty established in 1992 to cooperatively address climate change issues. The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system. Canada ratified the UNFCCC in December 1992, and the Convention came into force in March 1994.

To achieve its objective and implement its provisions, the UNFCCC lays out several guiding principles and commitments. Specifically, Articles 4 and 12 commit all Parties to develop, periodically update, publish and make available to the Conference of the Parties (COP) their national inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of all GHGs not controlled by the Montreal Protocol.Footnote 1

Canada’s National Inventory is prepared and submitted annually to the UNFCCC by April 15 of each year, in accordance with revised Guidelines for the preparation of national communications by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, Part I: UNFCCC reporting guidelines on annual inventories (UNFCCC Reporting Guidelines), adopted through Decision 24/CP.19 at COP 19 in Warsaw in 2013. The annual inventory submission consists of the National Inventory Report (NIR) and the Common Reporting Format (CRF) tables.

The inventory GHG estimates include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) in the following five sectors defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Energy, Industrial Processes and Product Use, Agriculture, Waste, and Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). The GHG emission and removal estimates contained in Canada’s GHG inventory are developed using methodologies consistent with the 2006 IPCC inventory guidelines. In line with the principle of continuous improvement, the underlying data and methodology for estimating emissions are revised over time; hence, total emissions in all years are subject to change as both data and methods are improved.

In May 2015, Canada indicated its intent to reduce GHG emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. In December 2015 at COP 21, Canada, alongside the countries of the world, reached an ambitious and balanced agreement to fight climate change. Since 2005 was adopted as a base year for both Canada’s 2020 and 2030 targets, many of the metrics within this report are presented in that context, in addition to the 1990 base year required by the UNFCCC Reporting Guidelines.

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change

Established on December 9, 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. The actions outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework will enable Canada to meet or exceed its target to reduce emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

The Framework was developed in collaboration with Canada’s provinces and territories. It builds on the early leadership of provinces and territories and the diverse array of policies and measures already in place across Canada to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors of the economy. Many of the policies and measures in the Framework are intended to be scalable to enable increasing ambition over time, and will be subject to rigorous and ongoing evaluation in order to ensure that Canada is well-positioned to meet its current and future climate change commitments. Canada’s GHG inventory plays a key role in keeping Canadians informed of progress made in reducing GHG emissions. Section ES.6 presents a pathway for Canada to meet its international emissions reduction target, based on the measures included in the Pan-Canadian Framework.

Pricing carbon pollution is central to Canada’s plan. The Government of Canada has outlined a benchmark for pricing carbon pollution that will build on existing provincial systems and ensure a minimum price of $10 CAD per tonne is in place across Canada by 2018, rising to $50 CAD per tonne by 2022. Carbon pricing will help influence investment and purchase decisions towards less carbon-intensive options.

In addition to carbon pricing, the complementary mitigation measures included in the Framework will enable Canada to achieve emissions reductions across all sectors, both in the near-term and as part of a longer-term strategy. Expanding the use of clean electricity and low-carbon fuels are foundational actions that will reduce emissions across the economy. Canada will also take action to reduce energy use by improving energy efficiency, encouraging fuel switching and supporting innovative alternatives. In the built environment sector, this will include developing "net-zero energy ready" building codes.

Actions in the transportation sector include increasingly stringent emission standards for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, as well as taking action to improve efficiency and support fuel switching in the rail, aviation, marine, and off-road sectors. Zero-emissions vehicles will be supported through development of a national strategy and through investments in supportive infrastructure such as charging stations. To reduce emissions from industrial sectors, Canada is developing regulations to achieve a reduction of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, including offshore activities, by 40-45 percent by 2025, and Canada has also committed to finalizing regulations to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons in line with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

The Pan-Canadian Framework also recognizes the importance of building climate resilience and sets out measures to help Canadians understand, plan for, and take action to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. A number of measures are being developed in this area with a focus on infrastructure, information and capacity building, and health. This includes a particular focus on supporting Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and northern and remote communities, which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The Framework also includes support for clean technology and innovation, including for early-stage technology development, establishing international partnerships, and encouraging "mission-oriented" research to help generate innovative new opportunities to reduce emissions.

Section ES.2 of this Executive Summary summarizes the latest information on Canada’s net anthropogenic GHG emissions over the period 2005–2015 and links this information to relevant indicators of the Canadian economy. Section ES.3 outlines the major trends in emissions from each of the IPCC sectors.

For the purposes of analyzing economic trends and policies, it is useful to allocate emissions to the economic sector from which they originate. Section ES.4 presents Canada’s emissions by the following economic sectors: Oil and Gas, Electricity, Transportation, Heavy Industry, Buildings, Agriculture, Waste, and Others. This breakdown is also used in Canada’s Second Biennial Report on Climate Change (ECCC 2016). Throughout this report, the word “sector” generally refers to activity sectors as defined by the IPCC for national GHG inventories; exceptions occur when the expression “economic sectors” is used in reference to the Canadian context.

Section ES.5 details GHG emissions for Canada’s 13 sub-national jurisdictions. Finally, as Canada’s annual inventory submission to the UNFCCC embodies almost two decades of learning and improvements, Section ES.7 provides some detail on the components of this submission and outlines key elements of its preparation.

ES.2 Overview, National GHG Emissions

In 2015, the most recent annual dataset in this report, Canada’s GHG emissions were 722 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq),Footnote 2 a net decrease of 16 Mt in total emissions or 2.2% from 2005 emissions (Figure S-1).Footnote 3 Annual emissions fluctuated between 2005 and 2008, dropped in 2009, and gradually increased thereafter.

Figure S-1: Canadian GHG Emissions Trend (2005–2015) (excluding LULUCF)
Figure S-1 (See long description below)
Long Description
Canadian GHG Emissions Trend (2005–2015) (excluding LULUCF)
YearGHG Emissions (Mt CO2 eq)

In 2015, the Energy Sector (consisting of Stationary Combustion Sources, Transport, and Fugitive Sources) emitted 587 Mt of greenhouse gases, or 81% of Canada’s total GHG emissions (Figure S-2). The remaining emissions were largely generated by the Agriculture (8%) and Industrial Processes and Product Use (7%) sectors, with minor contributions from the Waste Sector (3%). The LULUCF Sector was a sink in 2015, with net removals of 34 Mt, a 3-Mt reduction from the net removals of 37 Mt in 2005.

Canada’s emissions profile is similar to that of most industrialized countries. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the largest contributor to Canada’s GHG emissions, accounting for 568 Mt or 79% of total emissions in 2015 (Figure S-3). The majority of the CO2 emissions in Canada result from the combustion of fossil fuels. CH4 emissions in 2015 amounted to 102 Mt or 14% of Canada’s total. These emissions consist largely of fugitive emissions from oil and natural gas systems, agriculture and landfills. N2O emissions arise from activities such as agricultural soil management and transport, and accounted for 39 Mt or 5.4% of Canada’s emissions in 2015. Emissions of synthetic gases (HFCs, PFCs, SF6 and NF3) constituted slightly less than 2%.

Figure S-2: Canada's Emissions Breakdown by IPCC Sector (2015)
Figure S-2 (See long description below)
Long Description
Canada's Emissions Breakdown by IPCC Sector (2015)
IPCC SectorMt CO2 eq
Energy–Stationary Combustion Sources328
Energy–Fugitive Sources57
Industrial Processes and Product Use51
Figure S-3: Canada's Emissions Breakdown by GHG (2015)
Figure S-3 (See long description below)
Long Description
Canada's Emissions Breakdown by GHG (2015)
Greenhouse GasMt Co2 eq
HFCs, PFCs, SF6 & NF312


Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Over the last decades Canada’s economy has grown more rapidly than its GHG emissions. As a result, the emission intensity for the entire economy (GHG per GDP) has declined by 16.4% since 2005 (Figure S-4 and Table S-1). A divergence of emissions and emissions intensity began in the early 1990s (Figure S-4). and can be attributed to fuel switching, increases in efficiency, the modernization of industrial processes, and structural changes in the economy. These long-term trends have led to continued reduction in emissions intensity. Section ES.3 provides more information on trends in GHG emissions.

Figure S-4: Indexed Trend in GHG Emissions and GHG Emissions Intensity (1990-2015)
Figure S-4 (See long description below)
Long Description
Indexed Trend in GHG Emissions and GHG Emissions Intensity (1990-2015) index (1990 = 100)
YearIndexed GHG EmissionsIndexed GHGs per GDP (Emission Intensity)
Table S-1: Trends in Emissions and Economic Indicators, Selected Years
Total GHG (Mt)738701707716729727722
Change Since 2005 (%)NA-5.1%-4.2%-3.0%-1.2%-1.5%-2.2%
GDP (Billion 2007$)1 5031 5841 6331 6591 6981 7421 757
Change Since 2005 (%)NA5.4%8.7%10.4%13.0%16.0%16.9%
GHG Intensity (Mt/$B GDP)0.490.440.430.430.430.420.41
Change Since 2005 (%)NA-9.9%-11.8%-12.1%-12.6%-15.1%-16.4%


NA = not applicable.

GDP data source: Statistics Canada (no date(a)) Table 380-0106 - Gross domestic product at 2007 prices, expenditure-based, annual (dollars). CANSIM (database).

Canada represented approximately 1.6% of total global GHG emissions in 2013 (CAIT 2017), although it is one of the highest per capita emitters. Canada’s per capita emissions have dropped substantially since 2005, when this indicator was 22.9 t. By 2009, it had dropped to 20.5 t and has remained at historic lows ever since, with 2015 seeing the smallest per capita emissions yet at 20.1 t (Figure S-5).

Figure S-5: Canadian per Capita GHG Emissions (2005-2015)
Figure S-5 (See long description below)
Long Description
Canadian per Capita GHG Emissions (2005-2015)
YearGHG/Capita (t CO2 eq/capita)

Population data source: Statistics Canada. No date(b). Table 051-0001: Estimates of Population, by Age Group and Sex for July 1, Canada, Provinces and Territories, Annual (persons unless otherwise noted) CANSIM (database).

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ES.3 Emissions and Trends by IPCC Sectors

Over the period 2005–2015, total emissions decreased by 16 Mt or 2.2% (Figure S-6). The Energy Sector dominated the long-term trend, with emission decreases of 11 Mt (3%) in Stationary Combustion Sources and 4 Mt (7%) in Fugitive Sources (Table S-2). In addition, the IPPU and Waste Sectors each saw decreases of 3 Mt (6% and 10% respectively), while emissions from Agriculture decreased by 2 Mt (3%). Over the same period, emissions from Transport increased by 7 Mt (4%) partially offsetting the decreases from the other sectors (Figure S-7).

Figure S-6: Trends in Canadian GHG Emissions by IPCC Sector (2005-2015)
Figure S-6 (See long description below)
Long Description
Trends in Canadian GHG Emissions by IPCC Sector (2005-2015) (Mt CO2 eq)
YearWasteAgricultureIndustrial Processes and Product UseEnergy (Fugitive Sources)Energy (Transport)Energy (Stationary Combustion)Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

Increases in emissions since 2009 can be attributed to increases in energy consumption and fugitive emissions in oil and gas operations (29 Mt),Footnote 4 increases in the number of heavy-duty diesel vehicles in operation (8 Mt), increased consumption of halocarbons (4 Mt), and continuous increases in the application of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers (3 Mt). During the same period, there was a 15-Mt decrease in emissions from electricity generation, which partly offset emission growth.

The measures established through the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change will set emissions on a downward trajectory in all sectors. Carbon pricing will play a central and cross-cutting role, while complementary mitigation actions across all sectors will support additional emissions reductions. This will include a broad suite of measures to: further decarbonize Canada’s electricity sector; reduce emissions from fuels used in transportation, buildings and industry; improve the efficiency of transportation systems, buildings and industrial operations; and, protecting and enhancing Canada’s carbon sinks. In addition, support for clean technology and innovation will support new emission reduction opportunities across all sectors.

Chapter 2 provides more information on trends in GHG emissions from both 1990 and 2005 and their drivers.Footnote 5 Further breakdowns of emissions by subsector and gas, and a complete time series can be found in Annex 9.

Table S-2: Canada's GHG Emissions by IPCC Sector (2005-2015), Selected Years (Mt CO2 eq)
Greenhouse Gas CategoriesSourceSector20052009201020112012201320142015
TotalTable S-2 Note aEmptyEmpty738689701707716729727722
Energya. Stationary Combustion SourcesEmpty339315318320322329332328
Energya. Stationary Combustion SourcesPublic Electricity and Heat Production122991019491888584
Energya. Stationary Combustion SourcesPetroleum Refining Industries2019191920191817
Energya. Stationary Combustion SourcesMining and Upstream Oil and Gas Production687881829199102105
Energya. Stationary Combustion SourcesManufacturing Industries4840414444454543
Energya. Stationary Combustion SourcesConstruction11211111
Energya. Stationary Combustion SourcesCommercial & Institutional3230283028303231
Energya. Stationary Combustion SourcesResidential4645434642444643
Energya. Stationary Combustion SourcesAgriculture and Forestry23344444
Energyb. TransportEmpty195190199200200204202202
Energyb. TransportDomestic Aviation86667877
Energyb. TransportRoad Transportation134136142143144147144144
Energyb. TransportRailways75788787
Energyb. TransportDomestic Navigation66766554
Energyb. TransportOther Transportation4136383836373839
Energyc. Fugitive SourcesEmpty6155545557596057
Energyc. Fugitive SourcesCoal Mining11111211
Energyc. Fugitive SourcesOil and Natural Gas5954535456575856
Energyd. CO2 Transport and StorageEmpty00000000
Industrial Processes and Product UseEmptyEmpty5446485256545151
Industrial Processes and Product Usea. Mineral ProductsEmpty107888888
Industrial Processes and Product Useb. Chemical IndustryEmpty96566667
Industrial Processes and Product Usec. Metal ProductionEmpty2016161717151514
Industrial Processes and Product Used. Production and Consumption of Halocarbons, SF6 and NF3Empty5789991011
Industrial Processes and Product Usee. Non-Energy Products from Fuels and Solvent UseEmpty910111215151211
Industrial Processes and Product Usef. Other Product Manufacture and UseEmpty10000000
Agriculturea. Enteric FermentationEmpty3127262525252525
Agricultureb. Manure ManagementEmpty109888889
Agriculturec. Agricultural SoilsEmpty1820202021232223
Agricultured. Field Burning of Agricultural ResiduesEmpty00000000
Agriculturee. Liming, Urea Application and Other Carbon-containing FertilizersEmpty12222323
Wastea. Solid Waste DisposalEmpty2523222222222222
Wasteb. Biological Treatment of Solid WasteEmpty11111111
Wastec. Wastewater Treatment and DischargeEmpty11111111
Wasted. Incineration and Open Burning of WasteEmpty11111111
Land Use, Land-Use Change and ForestryEmptyEmpty-37-46-28-26-30-29-33-34
Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestrya. Forest LandEmpty-183-166-159-160-164-163-166-164
Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestryb. CroplandEmpty-10-12-12-12-12-11-11-11
Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestryc. GrasslandEmpty10012111
Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestryd. WetlandsEmpty33333333
Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestrye. SettlementsEmpty44444444
Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestryf. Harvested Wood ProductsEmpty149125136138137138137135


  • Table S-2 Note a. National totals exclude all GHGs from the Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry Sector.
Figure S-7: Changes in Emission by IPCC Sector (2005-2015)
Figure S-7 (See long description below)
Long Description
Changes in Emission by IPCC Sector (2005-2015)
IPCC SectorNet Change in Emissions (Mt CO2 eq)
Total Change-16
Energy (Stationary Combustion)-11
Energy (Transport)7
Energy (Fugitive Sources)-4
Industrial Processes and Product Use-3

The following describes the emissions and trends of each IPCC sector in further detail.

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Energy–2015 GHG Emissions (587 Mt)

In 2015, GHG emissions from the IPCC Energy Sector (587 Mt) were 1.4% lower than in 2005 (595 Mt). Within the Energy Sector, the 37-Mt increase in emissions from Mining and Upstream Oil and Gas Production was offset by a 38-Mt decrease in emissions from Public Electricity and Heat Production.

Decreasing energy generation from coal and oil, accompanied by an increase in hydro, nuclear and wind generation, was the largest driver of the 31% decrease in emissions associated with Electricity Production between 2005 and 2015. The permanent closure of all coal generating stations in the province of Ontario by 2014 was the determinant factor.Footnote 6 Emission fluctuations over the period reflect variations in the mix of electricity generation sources.Footnote 7

GHG emissions from Manufacturing Industries decreased by 5.0 Mt between 2005 and 2015, consistent with both a 16% decrease in energy use and an observed decline in outputFootnote 8 in these industries.

Oil production has been driven primarily by a rapid rise in the extraction of bitumen and synthetic crude oil from Canada’s oil sands operations, where total output has increased by 140% since 2005. This has contributed to the 37 Mt increase in emissions between 2005 to 2015 from Mining and Upstream Oil and Gas Production. However, from 2010 to 2015 the emission intensity of oil sands operations themselves have dropped by approximately 16% as a result of technological and efficiency improvements, less venting emissions and reductions in the percentage of crude bitumen being upgraded to synthetic crude oil.

The majority of transport emissions in Canada are related to Road Transportation, which includes personal transportation (light-duty vehicles and trucks) and heavy duty trucks. The growth in road transport emissions is largely due to more driving. Despite a reduction in kilometres driven per vehicle, the total vehicle fleet has increased by 19% since 2005, most notably for trucks (both light-and heavy-duty), leading to more kilometres driven overall.

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Industrial Processes and Product Use–2015 GHG Emissions (51 Mt)

The Industrial Processes and Product Use Sector covers non-energy GHG emissions that result from manufacturing processes and use of products, such as limestone calcination in cement production and the use of HFCs and PFCs as replacement refrigerants for ozone-depleting substances (ODSs). Emissions from the IPPU Sector contributed 51 Mt (7%) to Canada’s 2015 emissions.

Emissions of most industries decreased in 2008 and 2009 and have remained at similar levels since then. A notable exception includes the 5.9 Mt (116%) increase in emissions from the use of HFCs since 2005.

The aluminium industry has decreased its process emissions, largely due to technological improvements introduced to mitigate PFC emissions. The overall decrease in GHG emissions from chemical industries is primarily a result of the closure in 2009 of the sole Canadian adipic acid plant located in Ontario.

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Agriculture–2015 GHG Emissions (59 Mt)

The Agriculture Sector covers non-energy GHG emissions relating to the production of crops and livestock. Emissions from Agriculture accounted for 59 Mt, or 8% of total GHG emissions for Canada in 2015, down 2 Mt from their peak in 2005.

In 2015, Agriculture accounted for 28% of national CH4 emissions and 71% of national N2O emissions.

The main drivers of the emission trend in the Agriculture Sector are the fluctuations in livestock populations and application of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers in the Prairie Provinces. Since 2005, fertilizer use has increased, while livestock populations peaked in 2005 decreased sharply to 2011. In 2015, emissions from livestock digestion (enteric fermentation) accounted for 42% of total agricultural emissions, and the application of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers accounted for 22% of total agricultural emissions.

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Waste–2015 GHG Emissions (25 Mt)

The Waste Sector includes GHG emissions from the treatment and disposal of liquid and solid wastes. Emissions from Waste contributed 25 Mt (3.4%) to Canada’s total emissions in 2015 and 28 Mt (3.7%) in 2005.

The primary source of emissions in the Waste Sector is Solid Waste Disposal, which includes municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills (19 Mt in 2015) and wood waste landfills (4 Mt in 2015). In 2015, Solid Waste Disposal accounted for 90% of Waste emissions, while Biological Treatment of Solid Waste (composting), Wastewater Treatment and Discharge, and Incineration and Open Burning of Waste contributed 3.8%, 4.3% Mt and 2.2%, respectively.

Methane emissions from publicly and privately owned municipal solid waste landfills (MSW) make up 86% of emissions from Solid Waste Disposal. The remainder originate from on-site industrial landfills of wood residues; such landfills are declining in number as markets for wood residues grow.

Methane emissions from MSW landfills decreased 11% between 2005 and 2015. Of the 30 Mt CO2 eq of CH4 generated by MSW landfills in 2015, only 19 Mt (or 62% of generated emissions) were actually emitted to the atmosphere. The other 11 Mt were captured and combusted at 81 landfill gas collection sites. The quantity of captured CH4 increased from 27% in 2005 to 38% in 2015. Of the total amount of CH4 collected in 2015, 51% (5.6 Mt) was utilized for various energy purposes and the remainder was flared.

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Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry–2015 (Net GHG Removals of 34 Mt)

The Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Sector reports anthropogenic GHG fluxes between the atmosphere and Canada’s managed lands, including those associated with land-use change and emissions from Harvested Wood Products (HWP), which are closely linked to Forest Land.

In this sector, the net flux is calculated as the sum of CO2 and non-CO2 emissions to the atmosphere and CO2 removals from the atmosphere. In 2015, this net flux amounted to removals of 34 Mt, which, if included, would decrease the total Canadian GHG emissions by 4.7%. New this year, the LULUCF estimates now exclude the impact of significant natural disturbances in managed forests (wildfires and insects), revealing more meaningful trends associated with anthropogenic activities. Additional information on the changes made this year can be found in Chapter 6.

The trend in net removals is mainly driven by a decrease in net CO2 removals from Forest Land combined with HWP, partially attenuated by an increase in net CO2 removals in Cropland and reduced emissions from the conversion of forests to other land use.

Net removals from Forest Land decreased from 180 Mt in 2005 to 165 in 2015, fluctuating in recent years between removals of 160 to 170 Mt as forests recover from peak harvest rates and insect disturbance in the mid-2000s. Over this same period emissions from Harvested Wood Products (HWP) originating from Canada fluctuated between 150 Mt in to 2005, to a low of 125 Mt in 2009 (the year of the lowest harvest rates), and have since increased to 135 Mt in 2015. A significant proportion of HWP emissions result from the decay of long-lived wood products reaching the end of their economic life decades after the wood was harvested. Harvested Wood Product emissions like Forest Land emissions and removals are influenced by recent forest management trends, but also by the long-term impact of forest management that occurred in past decades.

Since 2005, net removals from Cropland have increased slightly from 10.3 to 10.9 Mt. However removals actually peaked in 2009 at 11.7 Mt and have since declined as a result of an increase in the conversion of perennial to annual crops on the prairies, the declining effect of conversion to conservation tillage and slower rates of agricultural expansion onto forest land.

The conversion of forestsFootnote 9 to other land uses is a prevalent, yet declining, practice in Canada and is mainly due to forest conversion to settlements for resource extraction and cropland expansion. Emissions due to forest conversion fell from 16 Mt in 2005 to 14 Mt in 2015.

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ES.4 Canadian Economic Sectors

For the purposes of analyzing economic trends and policies, it is useful to allocate emissions to the economic sector from which the emissions originate. In general, a comprehensive emission profile for a specific economic sector is developed by reallocating the relevant proportion of emissions from various IPCC subcategories. This reallocation simply re-categorizes emissions under different headings and does not change the overall magnitude of Canadian emissions estimates.

GHG emissions trends in Canada’s economic sectors from 2005 to 2015 are consistent with those described for IPCC sectors, with the Oil and Gas and Transportation economic sectors showing emission increases of 20% and 6% respectively over the last decade (Figure S-8 and Table S-3). These increases have been more than offset by emission decreases in Electricity (33%), Heavy Industry (13%) and Waste & Others (13%).

Further information on economic sector trends can be found in Chapter 2. Additional information on the IPCC and economic sector definitions, as well as a detailed cross-walk between IPCC and economic sector categories, can be found in Part 3 of this report.

Figure S-8: Canada's Emissions Breakdown by Economic Sector (2015)
Figure S-8 (See long description below)
Long Description
Canada's Emissions Breakdown by Economic Sector (2015)
Economic SectorMt Co2 eq
Total: 722 Mt CO2 eq
Oil and Gas189
Emissions-Intensive and Trade-Exposed Industries75
Waste & Others48

Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Table S-3: Canada's GHG Emissions by Economic Sector, Selected Years (Mt CO2 eq)
National GHG Total738689701707716729727722
Oil and Gas158158160161174185190189
Heavy IndustryTable S-3 Note a8671738079777775
Waste & OthersTable S-3 Note b5449505049494848


Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Estimates presented here are under continual improvement. Historical emissions may be changed in future publications as new data become available and methods and models are refined and improved.

  • Table S-3 Note a. Heavy Industry represent emissions arising from non-coal, -oil and -gas mining activities, smelting and refining, and the production and processing of industrial goods such as paper or cement.
  • Table S-3 Note b. "Others" includes Coal Production, Light Manufacturing, Construction and Forest Resources.

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ES.5 Provincial and Territorial GHG Emissions

Emissions vary significantly by province as a result of population, energy sources and economic structure. All else being equal, economies based on resource extraction will tend to have higher emission levels than service-based economies. Likewise, provinces that rely on fossil fuels for their electricity generation emit relatively more greenhouse gases than those that rely more on hydroelectricity.

Historically Alberta and Ontario have been the highest emitting provinces. Since 2005, emission patterns in these two provinces diverged. Emissions in Alberta increased from 233 Mt in 2005 to 274 Mt in 2015 (18%), primarily as a result of the expansion of oil and gas operations (Figure S-9 and Table S-4). In contrast, Ontario’s emissions have steadily decreased since 2005 (by 38 Mt or 19%), owing primarily to the closure of coal-fired electricity generation plants.

Electricity production in Quebec and British Columbia relies on abundant hydroelectric resources, resulting in more stable emission patterns across the time series. Quebec experienced a 9.8% (8.7 Mt) decrease from its 2005 emissions level, while British Columbia had a decline of 4.7% (3.0 Mt).

Emissions in Saskatchewan increased by 7.8% (5.5 Mt) between 2005 and 2015 as a result of activities in the oil and gas industry, potash and uranium mining and transportation. Emissions in Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador have also increased since 2005, but to a lesser extent (0.7% and 2% respectively). Provinces which have seen more significant decreases in emissions include New Brunswick (31% reduction, or 6.2 Mt), Nova Scotia (30% reduction, or 7.0 Mt), and Prince Edward (14% reduction, or 0.3 Mt).

Figure S-9: Emissions by Province in 2005, 2010 and 2015
Figure S-9 (See long description below)
Long Description
Emissions by Province in 2005, 2010 and 2015 (Mt CO2 eq)
Table S-4: GHG Emissions Provinces/Territories, Selected Years (Mt CO2 eq)
Province/Territory2005201020112012201320142015Change (%)-
Total (Canada)738701707716729727722-2.2%


Totals may not add up due to rounding.

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ES.6 Pathway to Canada's 2030 target

To achieve its target, Canada must reduce its total economy-wide emissions to 523 Mt in 2030. The Government of Canada uses a recognized energy and macroeconomic modeling frameworkFootnote 10 to produce emissions projections to 2030, which are published on an annual basis. The most recent emissions projections, published in December 2016, indicate that with federal, provincial and territorial policies and measures that have legislated or funding certainty and were in place as of November 1st, 2016, (just prior to the Pan-Canadian Framework) total Canadian GHG emissions would be 742 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq) in 2030.

Figure S-10: Pathway to Canada’s 2030 target
Figure S-10 (See long description below)
Long Description
Pathway to Canada’s 2030 target (Mt CO2 eq)
YearHistorical Emissions (2016 NIR)December 2016 Projected EmissionsPCF Measures Projected EmissionsAdditional Measures PathwayTarget


NA = not applicable.

The federal, provincial and territorial policies within the pan-Canadian Framework that have been modelled are projected to decrease Canada’s emissions by 175 Mt. This includes the estimated impacts of carbon pricing, proposed regulations (e.g., clean fuel standard, accelerated coal phase-out, vehicle efficiency standards, regulations for methane and HFCs), and some additional actions in electricity, buildings, transportation and industry.

This estimate of 175 Mt does not include the full suite of commitments under the Pan-Canadian Framework. Specifically, the emission reductions associated with the unprecedented levels of investment in public transit, green infrastructure, innovation and clean technologies have not yet been estimated or modelled. Emissions reductions from these investments will be assessed and quantified as specific projects are identified and programs are implemented.

Additionally, the potential increases in stored carbon (carbon sequestration) in forests, soils and wetlands have not been included in the projected emissions reductions figure of 175 Mt. For a country such as Canada, carbon sequestration could make an important contribution to the achievement of the 2030 target.

Finally, this projected emissions reduction figure assumes that no new mitigation policies or measures will be implemented by the provinces and territories between now and 2030.

Figure S-11: Emissions Reductions from the Pan-Canadian Framework
Figure S-11 (See long description below)
Long Description
Emissions Reductions from the Pan-Canadian Framework
ScenarioReductions by 2030
(Mt CO2 eq)
2030 Emissions
(Mt CO2 eq)
December 2016 Emissions ProjectionsNA742
Reductions from Announced Measures, Pre-First Minister's Meeting89Figure S-11 Note a653
Reductions from Pan-Canadian Framework Measures86567
Reductions from Additional Measures44523


NA = not applicable.

Reductions from carbon pricing are built into the different elements depending on whether they are implemented, announced, or included in the Pan-Canadian framework.The path forward on pricing will be determined by the review to be completed by early 2022.

  • Figure S-11 Note a. Estimates assume purchase of carbon allowances (credits) from California by regulated entities under Quebec and Ontario's cap-and-trade system that are or will be linked through the Western Climate Initiative.

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ES.7 National Inventory Arrangements

Environment and Climate Change Canada is the single national entity with responsibility for preparing and submitting the National Inventory to the UNFCCC and for managing the supporting processes and procedures.

The institutional arrangements for the preparation of the inventory include: formal agreements supporting data collection and estimate development; a quality management plan, including an improvement plan; the ability to identify key categories and generate quantitative uncertainty analysis; a process for performing recalculations due to improvements; procedures for official approval; and a working archive system to facilitate third-party review.

Submission of information regarding the national inventory arrangements, including details on institutional arrangements for inventory preparation, is also an annual requirement under the UNFCCC reporting guidelines on annual inventories (see Chapter 1, Section 1.2).

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Structure of Submission

The UNFCCC requirements include the annual compilation and submission of both the National Inventory Report (NIR) and the Common Reporting Format (CRF) tables. The CRF tables are a series of standardized data tables, containing mainly numerical information, which are submitted electronically. The NIR contains the information to support the CRF tables, including a comprehensive description of the methodologies used in compiling the inventory, the data sources, the institutional structures, and the quality assurance and quality control procedures.

Part 1 of the NIR includes Chapters 1 to 8. Chapter 1 (Introduction) provides an overview of Canada’s legal, institutional and procedural arrangements for producing the inventory (i.e. the national inventory arrangements), quality assurance and quality control procedures as well as a description of Canada’s facility emission-reporting system. Chapter 2 provides an analysis of Canada’s GHG emission trends in accordance with the UNFCCC reporting structure, as well as a breakdown of emission trends by Canadian economic sectors. Chapters 3 to 7 provide descriptions and additional analysis for each sector, according to UNFCCC reporting requirements. Chapter 8 presents a summary of recalculations and planned improvements.

Part 2 of the NIR consists of Annexes 1 to 7, which provide a key category analysis, inventory uncertainty assessment, detailed explanations of estimation methodologies, Canada’s energy balance, completeness assessments, emission factors and information on ozone and aerosol precursors.

Part 3 comprises Annexes 8 to 13, which present rounding procedures, summary tables of GHG emissions at the national level and for each provincial and territorial jurisdiction, sector and gas, as well as additional details on the GHG intensity of electricity generation. Detailed GHG data is also available on the Government of Canada’s Open Data website.

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Executive Summary References

[CAIT] Climate Analysis Indicators Tool. 2017. Washington (DC): World Resources Institute.

[ECCC] Environment and Climate Change Canada. 2016. Canada’s Second Biennial Report on Climate Change (PDF Format 2.53 MB).

Statistics Canada. No date(a). Table 380-0106 Gross Domestic Product at 2007 Prices, Expenditure-based, Annual (dollars) (table). CANSIM (database). [updated 2016 Nov 29, accessed 2017 Jan 4].

Statistics Canada. No date(b). Table 051-0001: Estimates of Population, by Age Group and Sex for July 1, Canada, Provinces and Territories, Annual (persons unless otherwise noted). (table). CANSIM (database) [updated 2016 Sep 27, accessed 2016 Jan 15].

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