|Canadian Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1990-2003|
Canadian air quality has deteriorated during the past 10 years, while greenhouse gas emissions rose 24%—thereby hitting a level 32% above the targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol for 2008 to 2012—according to a Canadian federal report released this week.
Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators 2005, prepared by Environment Canada, Statistics Canada and Health Canada, looked at three indicators—freshwater quality, air quality and greenhouse-gas emissions—between 1990 and 2003.
Air quality. The national concentration of ground-level ozone—a key element of smog—increased 16% from 1990 to 2003. Stations in Southern Ontario had the highest average concentrations in 2003 and the most rapid rise from 1990.
The pollutants that lead to ground-level ozone (nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds) are emitted primarily during fossil fuel combustion mainly in and around urban areas, especially by motor vehicles and thermal-electric power plants.
Future reports will include a measure of fine particulate matter in this indicator.
Greenhouse gases. Canadian greenhouse gas emissions reached 750 megatonnes in 2003, up from 596 megatonnes in 1990.
The energy sector (including road transportation, fossil fuel industries and thermal electricity and heat production) accounted for 81% of total Canadian emissions in 2003 and 91% of the growth in emissions from 1990 to 2003. While total emissions rose, the intensity (emissions per unit of gross domestic product) fell 13% from 1990 to 2003.
The expansion of the Canadian economy, however, more than offset gains in emissions efficiency, resulting in a net increase in total emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions also grew faster than the Canadian population over the same period, resulting in a 9% rise in emissions per person.
Alberta—home of the oil sands industry—and Ontario had the highest emissions of all provinces in 2003. Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta had the highest percentage increases in emissions compared with 1990.
Road transportation accounted for 19% of total emissions in 2003 and for 31% of the growth in emissions since 1990. Canadians are increasingly dependent on road transportation. From 1990 to 2003, the number of vehicles rose 8% faster than the number of people.
There was also a shift in the types of vehicles used for personal transportation from automobiles to vans, sport-utility vehicles and light-duty gasoline-powered trucks. These heavier vehicles emit, on average, 40% more GHGs per kilometer than do automobiles.
Emissions from heavy-duty diesels jumped 71% from 1990 to 2003.
Freshwater quality. The preliminary water quality indicator presented in the report focuses only on the ability of Canada’s surface waters to support aquatic life over the period 2001 to 2003. For the 345 sites selected across the country, water quality was rated as “good” or “excellent” at 44% of the sites, “fair” at 31% and “marginal” or “poor” at 25%.
Water quality in Canada is under pressure from a range of sources, including agriculture, industrial activity and human settlements.
The report highlighting the increase in greenhouse gas emissions came shortly after Prime Minister Paul Martin criticized the United States for failing to listen to a “global conscience” by refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol.
Greenhouse gas emissions in the US have risen 13.3% since 1990 to 6,900 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2003—22% over what would have been the US Kyoto target of about 5,662 megatonnes per year.