Market Snapshot: Some Canadian provinces have already met their 2030 GHG emissions targets

Release date: 2017-07-05

Under the Paris Agreement, Canada committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, or a target of 523 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e). In 2015, Canada’s total GHG emissions were 722 Mt CO2e, which implies that Canada must reduce its GHG emissions by 28% within the next 14 years.

Factors such as population size, energy sources, and economic base contribute to highly variable emissions among the provinces and territories. Some Canadian provinces have already reduced their emissions by 30% compared to 2005 levels, namely Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Source and Description

Source: National and Provincial/Territorial Greenhouse Gas Emission Tables and NEB calculations

Description: This line graph shows the percent change (indexed with 2005 equal to 100) in GHG emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent for Canada as well as each province and territory between 2005 and 2015. It also shows the “30% below 2005 levels” target. Total Canadian emissions changed from 100 in 2005 to 98 in 2015, including a drop to 93 in 2009 before steady increases through 2015. Emissions dropped in all provinces and territories following the 2008 economic recession but generally grew again in the years up to 2015. Six jurisdictions contributed to the overall Canadian increase: Alberta (low of 100 in 2009 to 118 in 2015), Saskatchewan (low of 100 in 2011 to 108 in 2015), B.C. (low of 93 in 2010 to 95 in 2015), Manitoba (low of 95 in 2010 to 101 in 2015), Newfoundland and Labrador (low of 95 in 2013 to 102 in 2015), and Nunavut (low of 108 in 2009 to 138 in 2015). Emissions dropped steadily in Nova Scotia (high of 102 in 2007 to 70 in 2015) and New Brunswick (high of 100 in 2005 to 69 in 2015) since 2005. Quebec (high of 100 in 2007 to 90 in 2015) and Ontario (high of 100 in 2005 to 81 in 2015) also saw reductions in emissions but the rate of decrease was less aggressive. Outliers are: Northwest Territories (high of 131 in 2007 followed by a sharp decrease to 80 in 2014 and a small increase to 88 by 2015), Yukon (mostly steady decrease from 100 in 2005 to 57 in 2015), and PEI (decreasing until a high of 107 in 2011 and a low of 86 in 2015).

Note: By indexing GHG emissions to 2005, it becomes easier to see how trends change over time. Sectors contributing to total GHG emissions in Canada are transportation, electricity generation, heavy industry, buildings, agriculture, oil and gas production, and waste and others.

Climate policies targeting the electricity sector accounted for most of the GHG reductions in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. A legislated emissions cap for Nova Scotia Power led to increased electricity generation from natural gas and renewables while reducing coal-fired generation. In addition, electricity demand in Nova Scotia decreased 15% from 2005 to 2015 because of decreased manufacturing activity, while shut-down of the Dartmouth refinery further reduced emissions by 1 MT over the same period. In New Brunswick, emissions fell by almost 31% during this time frame because of policies that reduced oil and coal-fired power generation in favour of imported hydro from Quebec and increased wind generation.

Among the larger provinces, Alberta and Ontario experienced the largest changes in GHG emissions between 2005 and 2015. During that time period, Alberta’s population grew by 26%, significantly higher than the national rate of 11%. This population growth, coupled with increased oil and gas production, led to Alberta’s GHG emissions growing more than in other provinces and territories.

Ontario’s GHG emissions declined by almost 20% between 2005 and 2015. This was largely driven by the phase-out of coal, which helped reduce emissions from Ontario’s electricity sector from 31 MT in 2005 to 5 MT in 2015. In addition, the economic downturn in 2009 heavily affected Ontario’s manufacturing sector and resulted in declining emissions from heavy industry.

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