Canadian GHG emissions down 7.4% in 2021 from 2019
Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell 7.4% in 2021 from pre-pandemic levels, but remained about 1.8% higher than in 2020, when COVID-19 measures slowed economic activity, Environment and Climate Change Canada said April 14 in its 2023 National Inventory Report (NIR).
GHG emissions in 2021 fell 53mn metric tons of CO2-equivalent from 2019, to 670mn mt, but were still about 12mn mt higher than in 2020. Emissions in 2021 were 8.4% lower than in 2005.
“Canada’s emissions are going down – both from 2019 levels and 2005 levels,” Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said. “And the slight emissions rebound after the pandemic is smaller than originally expected.”
Emissions from transportation and oil and gas activities increased by 5% and 4%, respectively, from 2020. The emissions intensity for the entire Canadian economy has declined by 42% since 1990 and by 29% since 2005, the NIR said.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly impacted emissions in recent years, the sustained decline in emission intensities over time can be attributed to fuel switching, increases in efficiency, the modernisation of industrial processes, and growth in the clean economy as well as decreasing emissions intensity across the economy,” the report noted.
Fugitive emissions from fossil fuel production have fallen by 21% since 2005, while methane emissions from the upstream oil and gas sector fell by 9mn mt, or 14%, between 2019 and 2020.
“Many factors likely contributed to this, such as federal and provincial methane regulations, decreased oil and gas production, impacts of the pandemic, and the closure of less productive oil and gas wells,” the report said. “There was no significant change in methane emissions between 2020–2021.”
Combustion emissions from oil and gas extraction increased 4% between 2020 and 2021, consistent with a 13% increase in crude bitumen production, a 6% increase in synthetic crude oil output and a 4% increase in natural gas production.
Last week, the province of Alberta, where most of Canada’s oil and gas related emissions are sourced, said it had reduced methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 44% between 2014 and 2021, and was on track to achieve its goal of a 45% reduction by 2025.