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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Greenhouse gas emissions in the Canadian economy

1981 to 2000

From 1981 to 2000, carbon dioxide emissions per capita in Canada increased at an average rate of 0.25% a year, largely the result of an increase in the nation's standard of living, according to a new report. However, during the same period, Canadians became more efficient in their use of energy and have been using forms of energy that increasingly generate fewer emissions per unit of energy consumed.

The country's "eco-efficiency," defined as the ratio of economic output for every unit of carbon dioxide emissions, improved at an average annual rate of 1.3% from 1981 to 2000.

Labour, capital and energy are marketed inputs that give rise to saleable output of goods and services. The production process also generates pollutants such as carbon dioxide emissions. To produce more goods and services, businesses may use more capital and more labour. But they may also produce more greenhouse gases.

Eco-efficiency grew more rapidly in the 1980s, when it increased at an annual average rate of 1.8%. During the 1990s, the growth in eco-efficiency slowed down to an average of 1.0%. Most of the gains during the 1990s were attributable to increased efficiency in the use of energy. The remainder was attributable to a switch from fuels with high carbon intensity to those with lower carbon intensity.

Improvements in eco-efficiency during the 1990s were not uniform across the nation. Gains were strongest in Newfoundland and Labrador (+3.2%), Prince Edward Island (+2.5%) and Quebec (+2.3%). In contrast, eco-efficiency actually declined 0.7% in Saskatchewan.

On a sector-by-sector basis, the manufacturing sector recorded a 1.8% increase in eco-efficiency during the 1990s, twice the rate of growth of 0.9% in the primary resource sector. Major carbon dioxide producers, such as utilities and crude petroleum and natural gas, improved their performance significantly.

Canadian industries, governments and households produced an estimated 564 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2000, up from 434 megatonnes in 1981, a 30% increase.

On a per capita basis, each Canadian produced roughly 18.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2000, one of the highest levels in the world. This was 30% higher than the average for member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The research paper Greenhouse gas emissions in the Canadian economy, 1981 to 2000 (11-624-MIE2003001, free) is now available on Statistics Canada's website (). Also available is the research paper The sources of growth of the Canadian business sectors CO2 emissions, 1990-1996 (11F0027MIE2003015, free).

More details on Statistics Canada's research program on eco-efficiency are available on Statistics Canada's website (/english/studies/eaupdate/eco.htm).

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Tarek M. Harchaoui (613-951-9856; fax: 951-951-3292;, Micro-Economic Analysis Division.

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Date Modified: 2003-09-16 Important Notices