Signs of Canada’s progress in reducing GHG emissions and meeting its targets

Signs of Canada’s progress in reducing GHG emissions and meeting its targets
Signs of Canada’s progress in reducing GHG emissions and meeting its targets

The National Inventory Report for 2022, released Thursday, shows that overall, Canada emitted 708 million tonnes of greenhouse gases that year — after the pandemic. That’s 53 million tonnes less than in 2005, or about a sixth of what would need to be reduced to meet the 2030 target.

Canada’s most recent commitment under the Paris climate agreement is to reduce its national emissions by 40 to 45% by 2030 compared to 2005.

One million tonnes is approximately what 240,000 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles emit in one year.

“Emissions are at their lowest level in 25 years, with the exception of 2020 and 2021, during COVID,” commented Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault on Thursday.

Starting in 2022, Canada will need to eliminate more than 251 million tonnes to meet its 2030 target.

The pandemic and after

Major economic disruptions from the pandemic led to falling emissions, particularly in 2020, when planes were grounded, cruise ships docked and citizens around the world confined to their homes in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. virus.

Guilbeault said emissions were already expected to be higher in 2022 than during the COVID−19 years as people returned to more normal daily activities. But the increase of nine million tonnes between 2021 and 2022 was lower than the forecasts of the government (13 million tonnes) or the Canadian Climate Institute (14.2 million tonnes).

Canada’s emissions in 2022 were about 6% lower than in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic.

The report also shows that the post-COVID economic recovery has been much greater than the growth in emissions, a sign that the Canadian economy is no longer as dependent on fossil fuels for economic growth, said Minister Guilbeault.

Stewart Elgie, associate director of the Environment Institute at the University of Ottawa, believes the sharp reduction since 2019 is significant, because that was the year national carbon pricing began.

He recalls that models from the government and the Canadian Climate Institute attribute between a third and half of total emissions reductions to this carbon pricing.

A recent analysis by the Institute indicates that about four-fifths of emissions reductions from carbon pricing are due to the price on heavy industry, while only one-fifth is attributed to the price of pollution paid by consumers.

Hydrocarbons and transport

The oil and gas sector contributed almost a third of Canada’s emissions in 2022, and the transportation sector about a fifth. Emissions from Alberta’s oil sands were nearly 2.5 times higher in 2022 than in 2005, and represented 12% of Canada’s total.

In contrast, emissions from conventional oil and natural gas production fell by about 20% each during the same period.

The emissions intensity of the oil and gas sector has improved across the board. In 2005, the production of a barrel of oil generated 75 kilos of carbon dioxide and its equivalents; in 2005, it was 61 kilos.

In 2022, transport emissions fell to 156 million tonnes, the same level as in 2005, after reaching a peak of 170 million tonnes in 2019, before the pandemic. Nearly 60% of these emissions come from passenger vehicles.

Emissions from passenger vehicles were 5% lower in 2022 than in 2005, despite a 27% increase in the number of vehicles on the roads. This is largely because the vehicles themselves are more efficient and the number of kilometers traveled has decreased slightly.

Greener electricity

Electricity, however, remains by far the biggest climate success story in Canada, with total emissions 60% lower in 2022 than in 2005. This is largely due to the gradual shift away from coal and natural gas as a Source of electricity. energy in Canada.

In 2005, electricity accounted for more than 15% of Canada’s total emissions, while it would account for less than 7% in 2022. In comparison, oil and gas accounted for 26% of Canada’s total in 2005, up from 31%. in 2022.

Other major contributors to Canada’s emissions are agriculture (10%), heavy industry including mining (11%), and buildings (13%).

Greenhouse gas emissions in Canada mainly include carbon dioxide (78%), methane (17%) and nitrous oxide (4%).

Methane emissions have declined as regulations require oil and gas companies to reduce the amount of methane that escapes or is deliberately released from their operations.

This year’s report adjusted Canada’s total emissions based on updated findings from the United Nations climate change office that methane, a major greenhouse gas, has an even greater impact important on global warming than previously believed.



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