Saturday, October 01, 2016

Where Canadian GHG emissions come from (and where they are going)

A bunch of graphs in today's Globe and Mail really caught my attention. Sometimes a picture really does paint a thousand words.
The first, which can be seen at its original source on the Environment and Climate Change Canada website, shows Canadian greenhouse gas emissions by province:
Column chart
The graph brings into sharp relief the fact that really it is just Ontario and Alberta (and maybe, at a pinch, Quebec, BC and Saskatchewan) that matter. Their emissions dwarf all the other provinces and territories.
It also shows Ontario and Quebec's emissions falling below 1990 levels (in Ontario this has largely been achieved by the shutting down of all its coal-fired power stations), while oil-producing Alberta and Saskatchewan's emissions continue their inexorable upward trend. Even environmentally-responsible BC, with its ground-breaking carbon tax, only shows a slight dip in emissions since 2005.
The second graph (original source) shows greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector:
Stacked area chart
This shows the overall continued increase in emissions countrywide, with just a slight hiatus after the 2008 economic downturn. It also demonstrates the extent to which the oil and gas sector dominates (increasingly) in GHG emissions, contributing about 26% of the total (compared to just 17% in 1990). Transportation contributes about 23%, buildings 12%, electricity generation 11%, "emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries" 11%, agriculture 10% and "waste and others" 7%.
Another graph (original source) shows a more detailed breakdown of the oil and gas sector contributions to GHG emissions:
Stacked area chart
What stands out here for me is the contribution of natural gas (29% of the total oil and gas emissions), which is much more than I expected. Indeed, this is not that much less than the 35% contributed by the combined processes of the oil sands, and substantially more than the 18% contribution of conventional oil extraction.
And finally - although there are many more such illuminating graphs and statistics to be found on the Environment and Climate Change Canada website - a breakdown (original source) of the transportation sector:
Stack area chart
This graph highlights the increasing contribution of freight trucks (now 32% of the total compared to 18% back in 1990), and "passenger light trucks", which includes trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles (29% compared to 17% in 1990). The relative contribution of passenger cars, on the other hand, has decreased significantly from 40% to just 21% of the total, decreasing 30% in absolute terms, presumably due to improved fuel efficiency in modern cars, but also probably reflecting a trend away from saloon cars and towards SUVs.
Lots of food for thought there.

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