by Ryan Smith
Earth’s atmosphere is made up of many different gases, some of which are “greenhouse” gases. They are called that because they effectively act like a greenhouse or a layer of insulation for Earth: they trap heat and warm the planet.
For the past couple of hundred years, human activities (such as burning coal to generate electricity and fuelling our vehicles with gas and diesel) have been changing the atmosphere by adding a huge volume of greenhouse gases. This has caused the greenhouse effect to become stronger, and is making the planet warmer.
Canadians produced over 720 megatons (Mt) of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in 2015. That’s a lot of gas: 1,587,600,000,000 pounds of it, to be precise, or as much 120,000 fully loaded freight trains.
In this post, we dig deeper into Canada’s GHG statistics, deciphering some of the jargon and making sense of the data.
Who are the biggest emitters?
The oil and gas industry is Canada’s leading GHG emitter. Emissions from the transportation sector are a close second.
Since GHG recordkeeping began in the 1990s, some economic sectors in Canada have managed to reduce their carbon footprints. Electricity generation, for example, has managed to cut emissions, as new technologies and an increase in renewables have drastically cut our reliance on coal.