Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are on the rise again in 2021, the second year of the pandemic, the most recent official data shows.
Canada emitted 670 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq) that year, up from 659 Mt in 2020, says the National Inventory Report released by Ottawa on Friday, on the eve of the deadline of April 15 to present it to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This 1.8% increase is mainly attributable to the transport sector and the oil and gas extraction sector, whose increases were respectively 9 Mt (5%) and 4 Mt (4%), largely erasing declines in residential heating and agriculture.
At 670 Mt, however, Canada’s 2021 GHG emissions remain below their pre-pandemic level; they had been 724 Mt in 2019.
They are also 8.4% lower than the 732 Mt emitted in 2005, the reference year used by Canada to calculate its reduction commitment of 40 to 45% by 2030.
The National Inventory Report highlights that the emissions “intensity” of the Canadian economy, or the amount of GHGs emitted relative to changes in gross domestic product (GDP), has decreased by 29% since 2005.
“The growth of Canada’s economy has outpaced the growth of its GHG emissions,” the document explains.
Canada is the 10th largest emitter of GHGs on the planet, with 1.6% of global emissions, recalls the document, citing data from the specialized site Climate Watch for 2019.
Canada is also one of the highest GHG emitters per capita, with 17.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (t CO2 eq) per person in 2021; this rate was 22.7 t eq. CO2 in 2005.
The increase in Canada’s GHG emissions in 2021 is “lower than expected, [which] shows that Canada’s economic growth continues to be cleaner and less polluting than before,” the Minister of Environment said. Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, in a press release.
“Progress is being made, and Canada has shown resolve in its climate actions,” the minister added, citing in particular its 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan.
“We have already achieved nearly a quarter of our 2030 emissions reduction target,” he said.
Quebec’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have also increased, shows the National Inventory Report. They reached 77 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq.) in 2021, compared to 74 Mt eq. CO2 in 2020. This is an amount lower than the pre-pandemic level; Quebec emissions had been 82 Mt eq. CO2 in 2019. This is also a quantity lower than the 84 Mt eq. 1990 CO2, which Quebec uses as a reference year to calculate its 37.5% reduction target by 2030.