Canada’s Latest Reported Greenhouse Gas Emissions Level: a 21.4% Increase Compared to 1990

Canada’s Latest Reported Greenhouse Gas Emissions Level: a 21.4% Increase Compared to 1990

Submitted by Canada Country Manager Diane Szoller

Canada’s Latest Reported Greenhouse Gas Emissions Level: 730 MT CO2 eq in 2019, a 21.4% increase compared to 603 Mt CO2 eq in 1990 (Data source Environment and Climate Change Canada reporting)

Emission Reduction Goals

Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Ministry submits a national greenhouse gas emissions (GGE) inventory yearly to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Reports address anthropogenic (human-caused) emissions by sources and removals by sinks and annual emissions estimates dating back to 1990. Between 1990 (603 Mt) and 2019 (730 Mt) GGEs increased by 21.4%, or 129 Mt CO2 eq. Canada uses a recognized energy and macroeconomic modeling framework for its yearly projections.

In addition, Canada’s Biennial Report (Fourth) on Climate Change to the UNFCCC (2019) summarizes progress on its GGE target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 using a baseline of 730 Mt in 2005, and a 30% reduction (219 Mt) to achieve 511 Mt CO2eq/year by 2030.


Canada’s commitment to reduce GGEs by 2030 has been a struggle. 2019 emissions don’t yet reflect the full impact of recent mitigation policies such as carbon pricing, investments in clean technology, and measures such as public transit improvements, green infrastructure, clean technology and stored carbon; 730 Mt were recorded in 2019! 2020 predicts a reduction.

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF) (Dec. 9, 2016) was Canada’s first climate plan. The Liberal government released ‘A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy’ (HEAHE) Dec. 11, 2020, to build on the PCF projecting 32-40% reductions as a 2030 target given existing/new measures and as a net-zero emissions foundation by 2050.

Canada’s 2021 federal budget (released April 19, 2021) promised a green recovery out of the Covid-19 crisis. Prime Minister Trudeau stated Canada is now on track to not only hit its original 30% target from the Paris climate talks in 2015 but to exceed it due to new policies. With him, Minister Wilkinson stated Canada will be on pace to reduce emissions to 36% with ‘additional action’.

Several civic groups want targets of 50-60% below 2005 levels by 2030 with enforceable timelines. A climate budget to ensure each new project’s lifecycle emissions fit within Canada’s climate commitments unfortunately was missed in Canada’s July 2019 Impact Assessment Act (Bill C-69) for new projects. At Biden’s international summit held April 22, 2021, Trudeau pledged Canada will reduce emissions by 40 to 45% below 2005 by 2030.

Canada’s new HEAHE plan to reach its 2030 goals is centered on a gradual hike in the federal carbon tax on fuels to $170 a tonne by 2030. New spending over 10 years is earmarked to improve low-carbon and energy-efficient infrastructure, energy-efficient homes/buildings, projects to decarbonize large emitters, clean technology, accelerate industry transformation across all sectors, low and zero-emission vehicles, renewable energy and grid modernization projects, a national active transportation strategy, public transit, and future co-operation with the US on fuel-efficiency standards and methane regulations for oil and gas producers.


Since 2015, Canada has invested roughly $60 billion on climate action and clean growth.  In 2020, $15 billion was directed to HEAHE and nearly $15 billion for public transit in Feb. 2021. Canada’s 2021 recently approved federal budget proposes $17.6 billion in new spending over 5-7 years, for energy efficiency retrofits ($4.4 billion), low-emission fuels ($1.5 billion) $5 billion as a net zero accelerator to reduce industrial emissions, tax cuts for businesses manufacturing zero-emission and carbon-capture technology, $1.4 billion on extreme weather consequences, $1.9 billion on natural disaster recovery, $3.4 billion to protect land and oceans etc. However, even with the IEA’s new ‘Net Zero by 2050’ report (May 18, 2021) stating that globally no new investment in oil, gas, or coal development and a massive increase in renewable energy adoption is needed, Canada’s fossil fuel subsidies still exist. Read a course of action, https://www.national

Canada’s NDC

Canada is committed to updating its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) before COP26 in the fall of 2021. On Nov. 19, 2020 Canada moved proposed legislation, Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, a legally binding process of interim targets at 5 year milestones starting in 2030, and plans and reports toward a net zero target for 2050.

Both the HEAHE plan and Bill C-12 are to support net-zero emissions by 2050. Bill C-12 has passed its second reading and is before the government’s Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for review and amendments. It will require an annual report outlining key measures taken on climate issues. In addition to creating an expert advisory body, the Act requires Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to report on progress at least once every five years. As of yet, there is no enforcement mechanism or assigned budget for performance audits or carbon budgets to align with the Paris Agreement enhanced transparency framework or any defined provincial structure.

New targets beyond 2016 of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050 have not been announced but are expected this fall to reference an extensive national effort over the last 5 years on an emerging global low-carbon economy.

Contact person responsible for coordinating Canada’s climate emissions policy is:

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Mail: House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Tel: 1 613 995-1225


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