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Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators
Canadians’ health and their social and economic well-being are fundamentally linked to the quality of their environment. Recognizing this, in 2004, the Government of Canada committed to reporting annually on national indicators of air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and freshwater quality. The goal of these indicators is to provide Canadians with more regular and consistent information on the state of their environment and how it is linked with human activities. Environment Canada, Statistics Canada and Health Canada are working together to further develop and report on these indicators. Reflecting the joint responsibility for environmental management in Canada, this effort has benefited from the cooperation and input of the provinces and territories.
The indicators in this annual report are described below.
The air quality indicators reflect the potential for long-term exposure of Canadians to ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), key components of smog and two of the most common and harmful air pollutants to which people are exposed. Both the ozone and PM2.5 indicators are population-weighted estimates of average warm-season concentrations of these pollutants observed at monitoring stations across Canada.
The greenhouse gas emissions indicator tracks the annual releases of the six greenhouse gases that are the major contributors to climate change. The indicator comes directly from the greenhouse gas inventory report prepared by Environment Canada for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).The freshwater quality indicator reports the status of surface freshwater quality at selected monitoring sites across the country, including the Great Lakes and, for the first time, northern Canada. The indicator uses the Water Quality Index (WQI), endorsed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME)1, to summarize the extent to which water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life (plants, invertebrates and fish) are exceeded in Canadian rivers and lakes.
1.The CCME brings together the Ministers of the Environment from the federal government and all provincial and territorial governments.
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