Putting GHG emissions in context
Climate change is now the most serious global environmental threat.1 Its potential impacts include global warming, sea level rise, increased extreme weather events, and altered rainfall patterns. Climate change is a direct consequence of elevated greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere and feedback mechanisms.
Since GHGs are emitted from fossil fuel burning, energy is the key policy category for tracking and analyzing climate change. The main challenge is to make economic growth less dependent on energy use and related air emissions, by improving energy efficiency and by developing and using cleaner fuels and low-emitting electricity sources.2
How does Canada compare to its peer countries on GHG emissions?
Canada is one of the world’s largest per capita GHG emitters. Canada ranks 15th out of 17 OECD countries on GHG emissions per capita and scores a “D” grade.3 In 2010, Canada’s GHG emissions were 20.3 tonnes per capita, significantly higher than the 17-country average of 12.5 tonnes per capita. Canada’s per capita GHG emissions were nearly three times greater than Switzerland’s, the top performer.
While Canada’s GHG emissions per capita have fallen since 1990, many other countries have managed to decrease them even more. For example, Germany and the U.K. reduced their per capita GHG emissions by 27 per cent between 1990 and 2010.
Has Canada reduced GHG emissions?
Despite international commitments to drastically reduce GHGs, Canada has not seen a substantial improvement on its per capita GHG emissions. In 1992, Canada signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), under which it committed to stabilizing GHG emissions at 1990 levels by 2000. In 2000, however, Canada’s absolute GHG emissions were 22 per cent higher than they had been 10 years earlier.
Canada went on to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, pledging to reduce GHG emissions to 6 per cent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. As of 2010, however, absolute GHG emissions remained 17 per cent above 1990 levels.
One of the main reasons for the increase has been the growth in exports of petroleum, natural gas, and forest products. These commodities are exported, but the GHG emissions resulting from their production are not. Still, there is significant room for Canada to cut GHG emissions by increasing energy efficiency and using lower-emitting technologies.
To achieve its international commitments, Canada must make substantial GHG reductions now.
Use the drop-down menu to compare the change in Canada’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions with that of its peer countries.
And then we have not considered how much GHG emissions are exported in all the coal, oil, bitumen, natural gas, etc etc that are currently exported, never mind the plans for the fuut
Has Canada’s relative grade on GHG emissions improved?
|No. Canada was a “D” performer in both the 1990s and the 2000s. The report card in the two decades remained the same for all countries except the U.K., which moved from a “B” to a “A,” and Ireland, which moved from a “C” to a “B.”|