Thursday, April 12, 2012

Canadian GHG emissions in perspective

The Canadian government submitted the latest national Greenhouse Gas inventory report to the UN yesterday, which features data through the end of 2010. As was highlighted in the Environment Canada press release and the media, GHG emissions grew by only 2 Mt CO2e (that includes CO2 plus other GHGs converted to "units" of CO2) despite the fact that the economy was rebounding from the recession. This was viewed by some, including the Environment Minister, as good climate news, because it suggests that  the economy is decoupling from greenhouse gas emissions.

For some perspective, here's a plot of Canada's GHG emissions since 1990, together with various policy targets (Kyoto, Canada's own 2020 target, the EU reduction target for 2020) and emissions projections (Energy Information Administration's 2020 projection for Canada). It was quickly adapted from a recent presentation. The "decoupling", if real, which is questionable given that Canada's economy is shifting more towards resource-intensive industries, has to seriously accelerate even to hit Canada's much-criticized 2020 goal.

There's an important and very telling missing nugget in the emissions total. I'll get to that tomorrow.
NOTE: The lines look "steeper" because the y-axis on the chart begins at 400 Mt; the Canadian government report uses a y-axis from 0 - 800 Mt.

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