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Environmental protection expenditures by businesses, 2012

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Released: 2015-04-29

Canadian businesses reported that they spent $10.9 billion on environmental protection in 2012, up 15% from 2010.

Two categories of expenditures—pollution abatement and control processes, and waste management and sewerage services—accounted for just over half the total.

The oil and gas extraction industry reported spending $4.7 billion or 43% of total business environmental protection expenditures. This was the most among the 16 industry groups surveyed. The mining and quarrying industry followed, spending $1.4 billion or 12% of total expenditures, while the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry spent just over $1.3 billion in 2012.

Provincially, businesses in Alberta reported the highest spending on environmental protection at just over $5.0 billion. This was largely attributable to the high concentration of the oil and gas extraction industry in the province.

Of the $10.9 billion in total environmental protection spending, capital expenses accounted for $5.3 billion, up 19% from 2010. Operating expenses, in turn, accounted for $5.7 billion, up 11%.

Capital expenditures

Capital spending in the oil and gas extraction industry totalled $2.6 billion on environmental protection projects, up 13% from 2010. This accounted for 49% of the total.

Investment in pollution abatement and control accounted for 45% of total capital investment, followed by pollution prevention, which represented 20%. These two activities have received the largest share of investments in each survey cycle since 2006.

Operating expenditures

As in previous years, the largest share of operating expenses was for waste management and sewerage services. In 2012, businesses spent $1.6 billion on these services, representing 27% of total operating expenditures on environmental protection.

The oil and gas extraction industry reported the highest environmental protection operating expenditures at $2.2 billion, or 38% of the total.

Spending on renewable energy and on greenhouse gas emission mitigation

Capital investments in renewable energy technologies totalled $547 million, up 20% from 2010. Investment was highest in biomass energy technologies, which accounted for more than half of the total in renewable energy technologies.

In addition, about 12% of businesses surveyed reported they had conducted a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, up from 10% of businesses in 2010.

  Note to readers

This release presents data from the 2012 Survey of Environmental Protection Expenditures, which is a biennial survey of just over 3,500 establishments in selected primary industries and in the manufacturing sector.

Measures of industrial spending on environmental protection are restricted to spending made in response to current or anticipated regulations, conventions or voluntary agreements. Measures of spending on renewable energy technologies include all such expenditures, regardless of whether they were made in response to regulations or for another reason.

The survey underwent a redesign for the 2006 reference year. For this reason, comparisons with survey estimates for years prior to 2006 are not recommended.


The fact sheet "Capital expenditures on environmental protection, 2012" is now available as part of the publication Enviro Fact Sheets (Catalogue number16-508-X) from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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