National Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions indicator helps Canadians and their governments track six GHGs (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons) released by human activity. The indicator identifies sources of GHGs so that strategies to reduce emissions can be developed and implemented.
Canada’s total GHG emissions in 2010 were 692 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq), or 17% (102 Mt) above the 1990 emissions of 589 Mt. Steady increases in annual emissions characterized the first 15 years of this period, followed by fluctuating emission levels between 2005 and 2008, and a steep decline in 2009 with emissions somewhat stabilizing in 2010.
Emissions growth between 1990 and 2010 was driven primarily by the fossil fuel industries and transportation. More recent emission reductions (2005 to 2010) have been driven primarily by electricity generation and manufacturing.
National greenhouse gas emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2010
Note: Canada signed the Copenhagen Accord in December 2009, thereby committing to reducing its GHG emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. The 607 Mt target is based on 2005 emissions reported in the National Inventory Report 1990-2008: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada, published in April, 2010.
Source: Environment Canada (2012) National Inventory Report 1990–2010: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada.
GHGs trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases prevent heat from escaping, just as the glass of a greenhouse keeps warm air inside. Human activity increases the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere, contributing to a warming of the Earth’s surface. This is called the enhanced greenhouse effect.
Over the past 200 years, humans have released GHGs into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. As a result, more heat is being trapped and the temperature of the planet is increasing. Sea levels are rising as Arctic ice melts, and there are changes to the climate, such as more severe storms and heat waves. All of this impacts the environment, the economy and human health.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions per Person and per Unit Gross Domestic Product
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Province and Territory
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Large Facilities
- Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Fuel Combustion
- Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Environment Canada - Climate Change
- Canada’s Action on Climate Change
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