Canada emissions report shows progress toward 2030 target, but still a long way to go

Canada’s latest greenhouse gas emissions report shows the country is making progress toward meeting its next target in 2030, but there is still a long way to go.

The 2022 report released Thursday shows that overall Canada produced 708 million tonnes of greenhouse gases that year.

This is 53 million tonnes less than in 2005, or about one-sixth of what needs to be cut to meet the 2030 target. Canada’s latest commitment under the Paris climate agreement is to reduce emissions by 40 to 45 percent less than in 2005 by 2030.

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

One million tons is about what 240,000 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles emit over the course of a year.

Starting in 2022, Canada needs to phase out more than 251 million tonnes to meet its 2030 target.

Major economic disruptions due to the pandemic caused emissions to plummet, especially in 2020, when planes were grounded, cruise ships docked and people around the world were confined to their homes to try to limit the spread of the virus.

Guilbeault said emissions were expected to be higher in 2022 than during the COVID-19 years because people resumed more normal daily routines. But the increase of nine million tonnes between 2021 and 2022 was less than projected by the government (13 million tonnes) or the Canadian Climate Institute (14.2 million tonnes).

Canada’s emissions in 2022 were about six per cent lower than in 2019, the last full year before COVID-19.

The report also shows that the post-COVID economic recovery was much larger than emissions growth, a sign that Canada’s economy is no longer as reliant on fossil fuels for economic growth, Guilbeault said.

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

He said models from the government and the Canadian Climate Institute attribute between a third and half of the total emissions cuts to the carbon price.

A recent analysis by the climate institute said that about four-fifths of the emissions cuts due to carbon pricing are due to the price applied to heavy industry, while only one-fifth is attributed to the price of energy. pollution that consumers pay for.

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

Emissions from both conventional oil production and natural gas production fell by about 20 percent each in that same period.

The emissions intensity of the oil and gas sector improved across the board. In 2005, the production of one barrel of oil generated 75 kilograms of carbon dioxide and its equivalents. In 2005 he weighed 61 kilograms.

Transport emissions in 2022 fell again to 156 million tonnes, the same level as 2005, after peaking at 170 million tonnes in 2019. Almost 60 percent of them come from passenger vehicles.

Passenger vehicle emissions were five percent lower in 2022 than in 2005, despite a 27 percent increase in the number of vehicles on the road. This is largely because the vehicles themselves are more efficient and the number of kilometers traveled by people has decreased slightly.

Electricity, however, remains by far the biggest climate success in Canada, with total emissions 60 per cent lower in 2022 than in 2005. This is largely due to Canada’s transition from coal and gas natural as a source of energy.

In 2005, electricity contributed more than 15 per cent of Canada’s total emissions, while in 2022 it was less than seven per cent.

By comparison, in 2005 oil and gas contributed 26 per cent of Canada’s total, up from 31 per cent in 2022.

The other major contributors to Canada’s emissions are agriculture (10 per cent), heavy industry including mining (11 per cent) and construction (13 per cent).

Greenhouse gas emissions in Canada primarily include carbon dioxide (78 percent), methane (17 percent) and nitrous oxide (four percent).

Methane emissions showed particular improvement as regulations forced oil and gas companies to reduce the amount of methane leaking or intentionally released in their operations.

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

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2024.

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