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This page lists the indicators released by the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators program.
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February 2017

Air emissions

Carbon Dioxide Emissions from a Consumption Perspective

This indicator provides a view of the carbon dioxide emissions tied to the goods and services Canadians consume compared with emissions from good and services produced in Canada. It also provides a view of these emissions in an international context.

Key results

In 2011, Canada's consumption-based carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were 579 megatonnes, or 8% above its production-based emissions. Since 2005, Canada has consistently been a net importer of CO2 emissions.

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Biodiversity

Newly Established Invasive Alien Species in Canada

The indicator reports the number of invasive alien species found to have established in Canada since 2012, reported by year of establishment and regulatory status. Invasive alien species are a significant threat to biodiversity. In their new ecosystems, they become predators, competitors, parasites, hybridizers, and diseases of our native and domesticated plants and animals.

Key results

Between 2012 and 2015, no new invasive alien species were found to have become established in Canada. Currently, 254 species are being federally regulated to prevent their establishment in Canada, including 23 that have been regulated for the first time since January 2012.

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Performance and Results

Progress Towards Canada's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Target

The indicator provides an overview of the projected greenhouse gas emissions in Canada until the year 2030. The indicator reflects the findings of the recently published Canada's 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reference Case by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Key results

Canada's annual greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be between 697 and 790 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030. The Canadian target for 2030 is 523 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. These projections are based on historical information up to 2014, as well as the future impacts of policies and measures put in place as of November 1, 2016.

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December 2016

Air quality

Air Quality

Air quality can deteriorate due to the presence of air pollutants. These pollutants can have adverse health and environmental effects, and contribute to the formation of smog and acid deposition. The indicators track concentrations of five pollutants in the air in Canada: fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Key results

Compared to the previous year reported, national concentrations of peak ground-level O3, SO2, NO2 and VOCs in the air were lower. In the last 15 years, a decreasing trend of 0.82 parts per billion (ppb) per year was observed for the peak O3, 0.13 ppb per year for SO2 and 0.5 ppb per year for NO2 and 3.7 ppb carbon per year for VOC. No trend was detected for PM2.5 and annual average O3 concentration but the concentrations of both pollutants were below the 2015 Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS).

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International Comparison of Urban Air Quality

Concentrations of four air pollutants in major Canadian urban areas are compared with those of select urban areas in the United States, Europe, Australia and China. The indicators are intended to provide information about the progress made towards improving air quality and to see how Canadian cities fare compared to others internationally.

Key results

Concentrations of ground-level ozone (O3), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air in Canada's major urban areas were comparable to those of other international urban areas. For PM2.5 and NO2, for which international guidelines are available from the World Health Organization, concentrations of those pollutants in Canada's urban areas were below the guidelines.

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Biodiversity

Changes in Wildlife Species Disappearance Risks

Identifying wildlife species at risk is the first step towards protecting these species. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada assesses wildlife species that are suspected of being at risk of extinction or extirpation. The indicator measures conservation effectiveness by tracking changes in the level of risk for species assessed by the Committee.

Key results

There are 447 wildlife species that have been assessed more than once by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Of these, 16% are in a lower risk category, 19% are in a higher risk category and 65% show no change in status between the two most recent assessments.

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Species at Risk Population Trends

A recovery strategy or management plan must be prepared for species listed as Endangered, Threatened, Extirpated or of Special Concern under the Species at Risk Act. The indicator measures if population trends in species at risk are consistent with recovery goals from recovery strategies or management plans.

Key results

As of May 2016, 123 species at risk have been reassessed and have population-oriented objectives, with 43 (35%) of those species have current population trends that are consistent with objectives laid out in their recovery documents. Forty-six species (37%) show trends that are inconsistent with objectives, and 11 (9%) have both some indication of improvement and some indication of decline. For a remaining 23 species (19%), data are not sufficient to determine trends.

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Climate change

Sea Ice in Canada

Sea ice is a critical component of our planet because it influences the Arctic and global climate, ecosystems and people who live in polar regions. Human-induced warming from greenhouse gas emissions and climate variability has resulted in an unprecedented loss of Arctic sea ice within the last 50 years in comparison to the last 1450 years. These indicators measure changes in the sea ice area in Northern Canadian Waters during the summer season from 1968 to 2015.

Key results

Between 1968 and 2015, the area covered by sea ice in the Northern Canadian Waters has been decreasing at a rate of 6.8% per decade. In the Canadian Arctic domain, the multi-year sea ice (ice that remains present all-year round) has been decreasing at a rate of 6.9% per decade while total sea ice has declined by 6.1% per decade.

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November 2016

Water quality

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) in Fish and Water

The Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) in Fish and Water indicators identify the drainage regions where concentrations of PFOS in fish and water have exceeded the Federal Environmental Quality Guidelines. Perfluorooctane sulfonate and its precursors were used primarily as water, oil, soil and grease repellents for paper and packaging, and carpets and fabrics, as well as in aqueous film-forming foam for fighting fuel fires.

Key results

Between 2011 and 2014, Environment and Climate Change Canada collected fish from 11 drainage regions and analyzed PFOS concentrations in their tissue. The analysis found that the concentration of PFOS was below the guidelines for fish health in all fish from all sampled drainage regions. Water was collected from eight drainage regions and samples were analyzed for PFOS concentrations. The analysis found that all water samples had PFOS concentrations at least 50-fold lower than the guideline for water between 2011 and March 2016. 

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Regional ecosystems

Reducing Phosphorus Loads to Lake Winnipeg

The Reducing Phosphorus Loads to Lake Winnipeg indicator was created to measure the contribution that the Lake Winnipeg Basin Stewardship Fund projects were making toward reducing the amount of phosphorus reaching Lake Winnipeg from their watersheds. 

Key results

As of March 2016, stewardship projects supported by the Lake Winnipeg Basin Stewardship Fund were preventing an estimated 22 200 kilograms of phosphorus per year from entering Lake Winnipeg and its tributary rivers. In addition, the bio-remediation of a decommissioned municipal wastewater lagoon in 2015 prevented 21 300 kilograms of phosphorus from ever reaching Lake Winnipeg.

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Performance and results

Managing Metal Mining Effluent Quality in Canada

The Managing Metal Mining Effluent Quality in Canada indicator presents the percentage of reported monthly average monitoring results for deleterious substances, pH levels and acute lethality tests that did not exceed authorized limits from 2003 to 2014. The indicator helps Environment and Climate Change Canada evaluate the effectiveness of pollution prevention and control technologies, practices and programs within the metal mining sector.  

Key results

Overall, in 2014, the metal mining sector achieved over 99% compliance with the authorized limits for metals, cyanide and pH, and over 97% for total suspended solids as set out in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations. These results have been mostly stable since 2003.

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Managing Pulp and Paper Effluent Quality in Canada

The Managing Pulp and Paper Effluent Quality in Canada indicator reports the percentage of acute lethality, biochemical oxygen demand and total suspended solid tests that met their regulatory limits from 1985 to 2014. The indicator provides information about whether Canada's Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations are able to sustainably manage the impact of Canada's pulp and paper industry on the environment.  

Key results

In 2014, 97.5%, 99.9% and 99.8% of effluent samples met regulatory requirements for toxicity tests on fish, biochemical oxygen demand, and total suspended solids, respectively.

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Reducing Phosphorus Loads to Lake Simcoe and South-eastern Georgian Bay

The Reducing Phosphorus Loads to Lake Simcoe and South-eastern Georgian Bay indicator was created to measure the contribution that the Lake Simcoe / South-eastern Georgian Bay Clean-Up Fund projects were making toward reducing the amount of phosphorus reaching Lake Simcoe and South-eastern Georgian Bay from their watersheds.  

Key results

As of March 2016, stewardship projects supported by the Lake Simcoe and South-eastern Georgian Bay Clean-Up Fund since 2008 were preventing an estimated 5365 kilograms of phosphorus per year from reaching Lake Simcoe and its tributary rivers. Similarly, stewardship projects were preventing an estimated 658 kilograms of phosphorus per year from reaching South-eastern Georgian Bay and its tributary rivers. 

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Restoring the Great Lakes Areas of Concern

An Area of Concern is a region that has experienced environmental degradation. The Restoring the Great Lakes Areas of Concern indicator assesses progress towards the restoration of the 17 Canadian Areas of Concern (AOCs) by reporting the number of beneficial uses listed as Impaired or Requires further assessment. All Canadian AOCs, except for one, have a Remedial Action Plan to guide restoration and protection efforts targeting specific beneficial uses.

Key results

Environmental quality in Canada's 17 Great Lakes Areas of Concern has improved since the restoration program began in 1987. To date, considerable progress has been made toward with the restoration of the Areas of Concern with 61 impaired beneficial uses having been restored to Not impaired status since 1987, an increase of eight since 2014.

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September 2016

Regional ecosystems

Nutrients in the St. Lawrence River

Phosphorus and nitrogen are essential plant nutrients, but when concentrations in the environment are too high, or too low, they can cause harmful impacts on food webs in the St. Lawrence River. The Nutrients in the St. Lawrence River indicator reports on the status of total phosphorus and total nitrogen concentrations along the St. Lawrence River. It provides information about how human activity contributes to phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations in the river.

Key results

Nutrients in the St. Lawrence River were above water quality guidelines more than 50% of the time during the 2012–2014 period. Higher phosphorus and nitrogen levels were found at stations next to agricultural areas along the south shore of the river between Richelieu and Bécancour.

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Performance and results

Weather Warning Index

Environment and Climate Change Canada issues weather warning alerts when severe weather threatens so that those in affected areas can take steps to protect themselves and their property from harm. A weather warning is an urgent message that severe weather is either occurring or will occur. The index was created to track the performance of Environment and Climate Change Canada's severe weather warning system in providing Canadians with warnings in sufficient lead time.

Key results

The overall score of the index increased from 7.6 to 8.3 between 2009–2011 and 2013–2015. This suggests that the system improved in providing Canadians with severe weather warnings in sufficient lead time. With the exception of marine gale, the scores of each individual warning type (wind, freezing rain, rain, snow and severe thunderstorm) also increased during this period.

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Previous releases

The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators program develops and regularly reports on a wide range of environmental indicators. These indicators are used to keep Canadians informed and up-to-date on the state and trends of environmental issues of concern. The indicators also track and report on the progress of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. Indicators from past releases are listed below.

August 2016

July 2016

May 2016

April 2016

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