Canada has made significant progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions from before COVID-19, but the pace is still too slow to meet international commitments, new data show.
Emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate-warming gases in 2021 were 7.4 per cent below 2019 levels, according to a government report released Friday. Still, they were up 1.8 per cent from 2020 as the country emerged from pandemic lockdowns.
And while emissions were 8.4 per cent below 2005 levels, the cuts will need to accelerate for Canada to achieve its United Nations commitment to reduce them by at least 40 per cent by 2030.
Emissions cuts in Canada, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, have been slowed by rising crude output to meet increased global demand. The country’s oil-sands producers have pledged to zero out emissions from their operations by 2050, mostly through the deployment of a major carbon capture system that they’re seeking increased government support to finance.
Emissions from oil and gas extraction in 2021 rose 4 per cent from a year earlier and were only 1 per cent below 2019 levels.
Canada’s biggest reductions since 2019 have come from lower use of motor fuels and from utilities burning less coal. Cars and trucks emitted 12 per cent less in 2021 than two years earlier. Emissions from electricity and heat generation were 14 per cent below 2019 levels, reflecting lower coal use by utilities, particularly in Alberta.