Photo: Canada's emissions

Smog in Vancouver. (Credit:jennyleesilver via Flickr.)

Canadians have a huge appetite for energy. Ironically, citizens of developing countries—where climate change will take its greatest toll—produce only a fraction of the greenhouse gas of Canadians.

By the numbers:

  • Canadians use more energy than all of the 760 million inhabitants of Africa.
  • Canada makes up less than one half of one percent of the world's population, but is the world's eighth largest producer of greenhouse gases (702 million tonnes in 2011).
  • Canadians spend about $75 billion annually—five per cent of our GDP—on energy to heat homes and offices, and to operate cars, factories and appliances. This is equivalent to $2,200 per person.

Analyzing Canada's emissions

Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. Energy consumption has grown about 22 per cent and emissions by 19 per cent since 1990. Rising emissions trigger more rapid climate change and worsen air pollution, with serious health consequences.

On a sectoral basis, the energy industry and the transportation sector contribute the greatest share of emissions. For individual Canadians, transportation accounts for most greenhouse gas emissions, primarily due to automobile use. Energy use in the home accounts for the remainder of greenhouse gas emissions produced by individual Canadians.

Research shows that, despite our high consumption, Canadians are eager to adopt clean, renewable-energy technologies. The good news is that these technologies are available now and are becoming more affordable each year. Many Canadians also realize that cutting energy use can mean substantial savings.