Climate quick facts: How Canada stacks up when it comes to emissions

Governments have adopted a global agreement that for the first time asks all countries to reduce or rein in their greenhouse gas emissions.

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Canada generates less than two per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, but is one of the highest emitters in the world per person, due to the country's size, the weather, and resource-based economy, according to Environment Canada.

Here are some other facts about Canada and climate change:

In May, the Canadian government said it wanted to reduce carbon emissions to 30 per cent below Canada's 2005 levels. That would mean a goal of 524 megatonnes by 2030. The latest Environment Canada data from 2013 said we were at 726 megatonnes. The then-Conservative government had not presented a plan to achieve these targets.

The 30 per cent reduction would be the equivalent of removing 47.8 million cars off the road, using emissions estimates from the United States Environmental Protection Agency for a typical passenger vehicle. The new Liberal government in Ottawa hasn't said whether it plans to change these targets, but calls them a "floor."

Some key numbers:

  • 613 - Number of megatonnes of greenhouse gas that Canada produced in 1990. That's equal to 134 million cars on the road per year
  • 726 - Number of megatonnes of greenhouse gas that Canada produced in 2013. That's equal to 154 million cars on the road per year
  • 55 - Number of megatonnes of greenhouse gas generated from the oil sands. Alberta as a whole produces two fifths of Canada's emissions.

(Sources: Environment Canada and Government of Alberta)

A breakdown of 2013 carbon producers in Canada, sorted by industry, according to Environment Canada:

  • 25 per cent; oil and gas industry
  • 23 per cent; transportation
  • 12 per cent; electricity
  • 12 per cent; buildings
  • 11 per cent; emissions intensive industries and trade exposed industries such as mining, smelting, refining, processing industrial goods.
  • 10 per cent agriculture
  • 7 per cent waste and others including coal, construction and forestry.

In November, Canada pledged $2.65 billion dollars to help developing countries fight climate change.

Some facts about the international picture:

China is the world's largest greenhouse gas producer, and emitted 10 billion megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2012, according to research from the World Resources Institute. That's about a third of the world's greenhouse gases -- and 14 times more than Canada.

The European Union says it has cut its emissions by 17.9 per cent since 1990. It has committed to bringing that number to 20 per cent by 2020. Malta, an island country in the Mediterranean that heavily depends on oil, is Europe's highest producer of greenhouse gas.

The European Union's environment agency says air pollution is the largest environmental health risk in the region, contributing to heart disease, respiratory problems and cancer. The Union says pollution caused 430,000 people to die prematurely in the region in 2012.


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