The Status of Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory


Since the Paris Agreement in 2015, Canada adopted 2005 as the base year for its greenhouse gas emissions (GGE) reduction target and submits an inventory annually to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by April 15 of each year, as required. As it takes over a year to compile, there is always a setback of a year on available data. The most recent report (2021) is found at:

Inventory development generally starts in February, when inventory experts plan their work on the methodologies to be reviewed, developed, and/or refined during the next cycle. Data collection begins from May to October, and roles and responsibilities are formalized. Methodologies are finalized by the end of September, and mid-November completes data collection. Over November and December, draft estimates are developed and internally reviewed. Next, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) Pollutant Inventories and Reporting Division prepares report text and tables. Between January and March, the inventory is then reviewed internally. Then, components of it are reviewed externally by experts, government agencies, and provincial and territorial governments, after which the report is finalized. Comments are documented and, where appropriate, incorporated into the text and then submitted to the UNFCCC.

ECCC is the single national entity that prepares and submits Canada’s national inventory to the UNFCCC. Facilities that emit ten kilotonnes or more of carbon dioxide equivalent per year must report to ECCC. Emissions inventory includes carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, and nitrogen trifluoride.  Sectors include energy, industrial processes and product use (IPPU), agriculture, waste, Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF). Statistics Canada provides ECCC with a large portion of the data to estimate Energy and IPPU emissions.

The National Inventory lead is Lindsay Pratt, Director of the Pollutant Inventories and Reporting Division, Science and Risk Assessment Directorate, Science and Technology Branch, ECCC. Email: Telephone: 1-877-877-8375.


Previous reporting shows in 2005, Canada’s total GGE was estimated at 747 Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq), up 25% from 1990 (approximately 596 Mt), and was still high in 2019, estimated at 723 Mt. In 2021, emissions were 670 Mt CO2 eq when Canada also submitted its enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the UNFCCC, committing to cut its annual GGEs to 40–45% below 2005 levels by 2030 or at least 440 Mt by 2030.

Emissions vary significantly by province and territory due to population, energy sources, and economic structure. Historically, Alberta and Ontario have been the highest-emitting provinces. Alberta’s emissions have increased by 20 Mt (8.6%) since 2005, primarily from oil and gas operations expansion. In contrast, Ontario’s have decreased by 53 Mt (26%) since 2005, owing primarily to the closure of the last coal-fired electricity generation plants in 2014.

Below is a breakdown of the 670 Mt CO2 eq from 2021.

Figure ES–3: Breakdown of Canada’s emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector (2021),



Transport and Oil and Gas Extraction combustion emissions increased by 9 Mt (5.0%) and 4 Mt (4.0%), respectively, between 2020 and 2021, while Residential Sources and Agricultural Soils emissions respectively decreased by 1.5 Mt (4.0%) and 1.4 Mt (7.0%). While COVID-19 impacted slowdowns between 2019 and 2021, many sustained declines in emission intensities over time can be attributed to fuel switching, increases in efficiency, modernization of industrial processes, and structural changes in the economy.

Canada is experiencing a gradual GGE decline but has much to do to reach 440 Mt by 2030.

Figure ES-2 Trends in Canadian greenhouse gas emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector (2005–2021),

The oil and gas sector is still the largest GGE emitter in Canada for decision-makers’ input.  Crude oil production increased by 180%, driven almost entirely by Canada’s oil sands operations, with output increasing by over 775% from 1990-2021, 85% of total crude oil production growth. Natural gas production and processing emissions have increased by 18 Mt (55%) since 1990, consistent with a 48% increase in gross production volumes.

Climate Scorecard’s rating is C – Canada produces comprehensive GGE inventory reports no longer 2 years old.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Canada Country Manager Diane Szoller


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