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Map of Canada showing the increases in GHG emissions by province/territory in 2008, compared to the 1990 base year
  50%+ increase
  30%–50% increase
  20%–30% increase
  10%–20% increase
  0%–10% increase
  0%–10% decrease
  Each square represents 2 tonnes CO
eq. per capita

Canada was active in the negotiations that led to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997,[1] and the Liberal government that signed the accord in 1997 also ratified it in parliament in 2002.[2] Canada's Kyoto target was a 6% total reduction by 2012 compared to 1990 levels of 461 Megatonnes (Mt) (Government of Canada (GC) 1994).[3][notes 1] However, in spite of some efforts, federal indecision led to increases in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) since then.[citation needed] Between the base year (1990) and 2008 Canada's GHG increased by around 24.1%.[4]

Debates surrounding the implementation of Kyoto in Canada are informed by the nature of relationships between national, provincial, territorial and municipal jurisdictions. The federal government can negotiate multilateral agreements and enact legislation to respect their terms. However, the provinces have jurisdiction in terms of energy and therefore, to a large extent— climate change. In 1980, when the National Energy Program was introduced, the country was almost torn apart, deeply dividing the provinces along an east–west axis. Since then no federal government has had the courage to implement an intergovernmental, long-term, cohesive energy plan.[5]

Some argue that since 2006, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper took office, his strong opposition to the Kyoto Accord, his market-centred policies and "deliberate indifference"[5] contributed to a dramatic rise in GHG emissions in 2007 (Climate Action Network Canada).[6][notes 2] Harper had previously denounced the Kyoto protocol as a "socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations", and pledged to fight against it in a 2002 fundraising letter addressed to Canadian Alliance members.[7]

Prime Minister Harper opposed the imposition of binding targets at the 2007 Bali Conference unless such targets were also imposed on such countries as China and India, which are exempt from GHG reduction requirements under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol. Although Canadian GHG emissions fell in 2008 and 2009 due to the global recession, Canada's emissions are expected to increase again with the economic recovery, fueled largely by the expansion of the oil sands. (Environment Canada 2011).[8]

In 2009 Canada signed the Copenhagen Accord, which, unlike the Kyoto Accord, is a non-binding agreement. Canada agreed to reduce its GHG emissions by 17% from its 2005 levels by 2020, which translates to a reduction of 124 Megatonnes (Mt).[9]

In December 2011, Ministry of the Environment (Canada) Peter Kent announced Canada's withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord one day after negotiators from nearly 200 countries meeting in Durban, South Africa at the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference (November 28 – December 11), completed a marathon of climate talks to establish a new treaty to limit carbon emissions.[1]) The Durban talks were leading to a new binding treaty with targets for all countries to take effect in 2020.

Environment minister Peter Kent argued that, "The Kyoto protocol does not cover the world's largest two emitters, the United States and China, and therefore cannot work." In 2010 Canada, Japan and Russia said they would not accept new Kyoto commitments. Canada is the only country to repudiate the Kyoto Accord. Kent argued that since Canada could not meet targets, it needed to avoid the $14 billion in penalties for not achieving its goals.[10] This decision drew widespread international response.[11] Finally, the cost of compliance has been estimated 20 times lower.[12] States for which the emissions are not covered by the Kyoto Protocol (the US and China) have the largest emissions, being responsible for 41% of the Kyoto Protocol. China's emissions increased by over 200% from 1990 to 2009.[13]

Canadian Council of Chief Executives[notes 3] VP John Dillon argued (2011-11-22) that a further extension of Kyoto would not be effective as many countries, not just Canada, were not on track to meet their 1997 Kyoto commitments to reduce emissions. He called for a comprehensive, long-term global agreement that includes major emitters like the US, China, India and Brazil. Dillon regards as positive the "series of non-binding pledges in Copenhagen by both developed and developing countries to lower emissions or improve energy intensity, leading to a more flexible structure that might eventually attract broader participation and more meaningful action". However, he called for Canada to do more to "improve its brand as a responsible energy producer—one that takes full advantage of our country's vast and diverse energy resources. That means investing proactively and strategically in energy efficiency, low-carbon energy infrastructure and innovative new technologies that will ensure a more environmentally sustainable energy system going forward."[14] The Bill C-38 Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act passed in June 2012 [15] (informally referred to as Bill C-38), a 2012 omnibus Bill and Budget Implementation Act,[16] Bill C-38 was given Royal Assent on June 29, 2012.[15] repealed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, "legislation, which required government accountability and results reporting on climate change policies (May 2012)." [17]

According to the report entitled "Environment: GHG Emissions Per Capita" (July 2011), Canada ranks "15th out of 17 countries for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per capita and earns a 'D' grade. Canada's per capita GHG emissions increased 3.2 per cent between 1990 and 2008, while total GHG emissions in Canada grew 24 per cent. The largest contributor to Canada's GHG emissions is the energy sector, which includes power generation (heat and electricity), transportation, and fugitive sources."[18]


Canada and Kyoto: a TimelineEdit

  • December 13, 2011: Canada became the first signatory to announce its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol.[notes 4]
  • 2009: Canada signed the Copenhagen Accord. Unlike the Kyoto Accord this is non-binding agreement. Canada agreed to reduce its GHG emissions by 17% from its 2005 levels by 2020 translates to 607 Megatonnes (Mt).
  • February 2009: The (CED) was established between Canada and the United States "to enhance joint collaboration on the development of clean energy science and technologies to reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change".[19]
  • 2007: The Canadian federal government introduced the Clean Air Act.[23]
  • January 2006: Harper's Conservative government took power. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had abandoned Canada's Kyoto obligations in favour of his "Made in Canada" plan.[24] In the first year GHG emissions rose to an all-time high of 748 Mt.[25]
  • 2004: The federal government launched the One Tonne Challenge.[26]
  • December 17, 2002: Canada officially ratified the Kyoto Accord under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's Liberal government.
  • 2001: The United States did not ratify the Kyoto Accord leaving Canada as the only nation in the Americas with a binding emissions-reduction obligation.
  • 2000: The federal government introduced the Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change.[27]
  • 1980: Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced the controversial energy policy, the National Energy Program (NEP). Tim Flannery, author of the influential book entitled The Weathermakers, argued that since the NEP, with its tidal wave of a negative western response, which nearly tore the country apart, no federal government—Liberal or Conservative—has been brave enough to forge a new energy policy.[5]

Emission profiles and trends in CanadaEdit

Canada is "one of the highest per-capita emitters in the OECD and has higher energy intensity, adjusted for purchasing power parity, than any IEA country, largely the result of its size, climate (i.e. energy demands), and resource-based economy. Conversely, the Canadian power sector is one of OECD's lowest emitting generation portfolios, producing over three-quarters of its electricity from renewable energy sources and nuclear energy combined."[28] Canada GHG emissions increased from 1997 through 2001, dipped in 2002, increased again, then decreased in 2005. By 2007 they had reached an all-time high of 748 Mt followed by a decrease.[notes 5]

  • 1990 (461 Mt) (GC 1994)[3]
  • 1997 (671 Mt megatonne)
  • 1998 (677 Mt)
  • 2000 (716 Mt)
  • 2001 (709 Mt)
  • 2002 (715 Mt)
  • 2003 (738 Mt)
  • 2004 (742 Mt)
  • 2005 (747 Mt) 33% higher than the Kyoto target[notes 6]
  • 2006 (719 Mt)[notes 7]
  • 2007 (748 Mt)
  • 2008 (732 Mt)
  • 2009 (690 Mt)[23]

These are the emission profiles based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Review of Canada's Annual Report, which includes data from 1990 to 2008.[4]

  • Total GHG emissions amounted to 734,566.32 Gg CO2 eq[4]
  • Total GHG emissions increased by 24.1% between the base year (1990) and 2008.[4]


Canada's overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by gas and percentage are:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) (78.1%)[4]
  • Methane (CH4) (13.4%)[4]
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O) (7.1%)[4]
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) (1.4%)[4]

Canada's overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by economic sector and percentage are:

  • Energy sector (81.3%)[4]
    • Transportation
    • Stationary Combustion Sources
    • Fugitive Sources
  • Agriculture sector (8.5%)[4]
  • Industrial processes sector (7.2%)[4]
  • Waste sector (2.9 per cent)[4]
  • Solvent and other product use sector (0.04%).[4]
  • Land-Use Change and Forestry Sector

The following table lists CO2 equivalent emissions by province and per capita for the year 2012.

Province Population (thousands)[29] Emissions (Mt CO2 equivalent)[30] Emissions per cap. (tonnes CO2 equiv.)
British Columbia 4,542.5 60.1 13.2
Alberta 3,888.6 249.3 64.1
Saskatchewan 1,087.3 74.8 68.8
Manitoba 1,250.5 21.1 16.9
Ontario 13,410.1 166.9 12.4
Quebec 8,084.8 78.3 9.68
Newfoundland and Labrador 526.9 8.7 17
New Brunswick 756.8 16.4 21.7
Nova Scotia 944.8 19.0 20.1
Prince Edward Island 145.3 1.9 13
Yukon 36.2 0.4 10
Northwest Territories and Nunavut* 78.3 1.7 22

  • Emissions data for Nunavut and Northwest territories are not given separately.

The Energy SectorEdit

Fuel Combustion ActivitiesEdit

Hydrocarbon consumptionEdit

Canada is the third-largest[31] per capita greenhouse gas polluter after Australia and the United States. The main cause of these high GHG emissions is Canada's hydrocarbon consumption—at 8,300 kilograms of crude oil equivalent per person per year, the highest in the world.

Fugitive Emissions from FuelsEdit

"Fugitive emissions from oil and gas operations (9%)[32]

  • fugitive equipment leaks
  • process venting
  • evaporation losses
  • disposal of waste gas streams (e.g., by venting or flaring),
  • accidents and equipment failures
    • well blowouts
    • pipeline breaks
    • tanker accidents
    • tank explosions
    • gas migration to the surface around the outside of wells
    • surface-casing vent blows

Memo ItemsEdit

Economic FactorsEdit

In periods of economic growth and recovery energy demand rises. Increased energy demand is expected in Canada in the coming years. While Canada is the fifth largest energy producer[33] in the world— producing and exports quantities of crude oil, natural gas, electricity and coal, its historically resource-based economy creates challenges in meeting emissions standards. The energy industry generates about a quarter of Canada's export revenues and employs some 650,000 people across the country.[33]

Geographic ConsiderationsEdit

Canada's geography, with its vast distances between many communities combined with the length and coldness of Canadian winters, contributes to Canada's high hydrocarbon consumption. As temperatures drop, fuel consumption rises and fuel efficiency drops. However, this has been largely taken into account by the structure of Kyoto Protocol, which assigns targets depending on given country's own emissions in 1990. Since in 1990 Canada was already vast and, if anything, colder than today, its emissions were already much higher, and, consequently, Canada's 2012 Kyoto target much more forgiving, than the targets of other countries with comparable population sizes. In fact, the 1990 emission benchmark not only implicitly accounts for objective factors, like climate and distances, but also rewards wasteful lifestyle choices—the preference to live in low-density suburbs and in large, energy-inefficient, individual homes did inflate Canada's 1990 emissions, and, therefore, further increased Canada's allowable emissions under Kyoto Protocol.

Of the 162 Mt of emissions resulting from transportation sources in 2008, over half or about 12 percent of Canada's total emissions can be attributed to passenger cars and light trucks. Emissions from these areas made up approximately 55 percent of Canada's total transportation emissions in 2008. light trucks (29.2%), heavy duty trucks (27%), cars (25.4%), domestic aviation (5.3%), rail (4.4%), domestic marine (3.6%), Other (5.2%). Environment Canada, National GHG Inventory.[34]

Another 14 percent come from non-energy sources. The rest come from the production and manufacture of energy and power. The following table summarizes forecast changes to annual emissions by sector in megatonnes.

Sector 2004 total 2004–2010 increase 2010–2020 increase 2020 total
Upstream oil and gas 127 7 −10 124
Upgrading and refining heavier oil 29 34 25 87
Power generation 130 1 −4 126
Industrial 106 4 8 118
Commercial and residential 83 1 13 97
Transportation 193 16 25 235
Non-energy (mostly agriculture) 108 8 11 127

According to Canada's Energy Outlook, the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) report,[35] NRCan estimates that Canada's GHG emissions will increase by 139 million tonnes between 2004 and 2020, with more than a third of the total coming from petroleum production and refining. Upstream emissions will decline slightly, primarily from gas field depletion and from increasing production of coalbed methane, which requires less processing than conventional natural gas. Meanwhile, emissions from unconventional resources and refining will soar.[36]

Land-Use Change and Forestry SectorEdit

The United States, Canada, and Japan and others also observed that, at the time of the original Kyoto discussions, science had little understanding of the impact on global warming of tropical deforestation.[citation needed] Deforestation amounts to destruction of some of the vital CO
reservoirs often called "carbon sinks". Factor in the loss of sinks from rainforest destruction and Brazil and Indonesia become the world's third- and fourth-largest GHG emitters.[citation needed]

Canadian Public Policy, Regulations, Goals and Initiatives for GHG reductionEdit

Public policies, regulations and initiatives are enacted at federal, provincial and municipal levels.

As Canada creates targets for GHG reductions, policymakers will likely zero in on the three areas—transportation, electricity generation and fossil fuel production—in which the greatest reductions are possible. Together, these activities account for nearly two-thirds of Canada's greenhouse gases. Efficiencies can be found there.

International Regulatory and Advisory Bodies that Influence Canadian PoliciesEdit


  1. ^ UNFCCC (1997). "Kyoto Protocol" (.php). United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  2. ^ "Kyoto ratification 'important for future generations'". CBC News. December 16, 2002. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Palombi, Laura (March 11, 2009). "Canada's Kyoto Woes". Biofuels and Bio-Based Carbon Mitigation. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m UNFCCC (April 21, 2011). Report of the individual review of the annual submission of Canada submitted in 2010 (PDF) (Report). United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Flannery, Tim (November 22, 2009). "Why Canada failed on Kyoto and how to make amends". The Toronto Star. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  6. ^ "Stephen Harper talks Kyoto Accord". Climate Action Network Canada. 2002. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2013. The following is the text of a 2002 letter written by then Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper to members of his party
  7. ^ "Harper letter called Kyoto 'socialist scheme' | The Star". Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  8. ^ Environment Canada (July 2011). Canada's Emissions Trends (.htm) (Report). Retrieved December 2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  9. ^ Jones, Jeffrey (August 19, 2011). "Canada moves ahead with new coal-fired power rules". Reuters. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  10. ^ "Canada pulls out of Kyoto protocol". The Guardian. UK. December 13, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  11. ^ CBC News
  12. ^ Climate Report n°44 “Ex-post evaluation of the Kyoto Protocol: Four key lessons for the 2015 Paris Agreement” (Report). CDC Climat. May 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  13. ^ The Economist (December 15, 2011). "O Canada". Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  14. ^ Dillon, John (November 22, 2011). "Durban and beyond".
  15. ^ a b "Bill C-38 Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act" (PDF). Government of Canada. June 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  16. ^ "Bill C-45: What's In Omnibus Budget Bill 2?". Huffington Post. January 18, 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
  17. ^ "May Clarifies Deliberately Confusing Bill C-38". Green Party of Canada. May 10, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  18. ^ Environment: GHG Emissions Per Capita (Report). Conference Board of Canada. July 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  19. ^ "CE Dialogue". Government of Canada.
  20. ^ "Canada to move toward Kyoto". Reuters. March 17, 2007.
  21. ^
  22. ^ York, Geoffrey (December 15, 2007). "Isolated Canada grudgingly accepts Bali deal". The Globe and Mail. Toronto.
  23. ^ a b c "Canada and Kyoto: A history of the country's involvement and its greenhouse gas emissions". CBC News. December 13, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  24. ^ Garth Woodworth (May 1, 2010). "Trade vs. Fossil-Fuel Reductions: Main obstacles to climate action are in trade agreements". Ottawa, ON: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  25. ^ "Harper's letter dismisses Kyoto as 'socialist scheme'". CBC News. January 30, 2007. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  26. ^ "Evaluation of the One-Tonne Challenge Program". Environment Canada. August 17, 2006. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  27. ^
  28. ^ Canada 2009 Review (PDF) (Report). 2010. ISBN 978-92-64-06043-2.
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Energy Policies of IEA Countries - Canada, ISBN 978-92-64-06043-2, 2010
  32. ^
  33. ^ a b A Strategy for Canada's Global Energy Leadership Progress Document (PDF) (Report). Energy Policy Institute of Canada. July 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 26, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  34. ^ Environment Canada (2008). 2008 Canadian Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Mode: National GHG Inventory (Report). Government of Canada. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  35. ^ Canada's Energy Outlook: The Reference Case 2006 Archived June 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ Beyond Bali


  1. ^ UNFCCC (April 21, 2011). Report of the individual review of the annual submission of Canada submitted in 2010 (PDF) (Report). United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Retrieved December 19, 2011."'Base year' refers to the base year under the Kyoto Protocol, which is 1990 for all gases."
  2. ^ "Harper's letter dismisses Kyoto as 'socialist scheme'". CBC News. January 30, 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2013. Mr. Harper referred to the accords as "A socialist scheme".
  3. ^ Brownlee, Jamie (2005). Ruling Canada: Corporate Cohesion and Democracy. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.The Canadian business community has taken the most active interest in politics at the CEO level than any other business community in the world (Tom D'Acquino, CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives cited in Brownlee 2005: 9 Newman 1998:159-160). And this interest and influence has been on the rise in the last decades. Canada's business community has had more influence on Canadian public policy in the years 1995-2005 then in any other period since 1900. "Look at what we stand for and look at what all the governments, all the major parties . . . have done, and what they want to do. They have adopted the agendas we've been fighting for in the past few decades (d'Acquino cited in Brownlee 2005: 12 Newman 1998:151)."
  4. ^ "Canada and Kyoto: A history of the country's involvement and its greenhouse gas emissions" (interactive). CBC News. December 13, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2011. This contains an interactive timeline.
  5. ^ "Canada and Kyoto: A history of the country's involvement and its greenhouse gas emissions" (interactive). CBC News. December 13, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2011. Data retrieved from CBC interactive graph based on Environment Canada, Statistics Canada.
  6. ^ Fritzsche, Jeff (2008). Canadian industry's expenditures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Report). Statistics Canada."Much of the increase in emissions is a result of the extraction, processing, refinement and transportation of oil and gas."
  7. ^ "A Climate Change Plan for the Purposes of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act" (PDF). Environment Canada. May 2008. 721 Mt (29% above Kyoto targets)

International Regulatory Bodies that Influence Canada-KyotoEdit

  1. ^ UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to 14, 1992. As of May 2011, UNFCCC has 194 parties. Canada is classified as an industrialized country.
  2. ^ As a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canada is also classified by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as an Annex II country, a subgroup of Annex 1 countries, developed countries, which pay for costs of developing countries.
  3. ^ Towards a Sustainable Energy Future: IEA programme of work on climate change, clean energy and sustainable development (PDF) (Report). 2008. Retrieved December 20, 2011. The (IEA) is an autonomous body established in November 1974 within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to implement an international energy programme. Member countries include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.
  4. ^ Veel, Paul-Erik (2009). "Carbon Tariffs and the WTO: An Evaluation of Feasible Policies". Legal constraints in the WTO trade agreements might make the market approach of the cap-and-trade tariffs programs to lowering GHG emissions unfeasible. Veel (2009) argued for a fossil fuel rationing scheme claiming that that climate action must necessarily be undertaken outside WTO trade agreements.

Further readingEdit

See alsoEdit