Canada's Black Carbon Inventory Report 2020

1 Introduction

Black carbon (BC) is a short-lived, small aerosol (or airborne particle), emitted from combustion processes and linked to both climate warming and adverse health effects. Black carbon emissions have become a focus of attention due to their effects on the near-term warming of the atmosphere and on human health. Reducing black carbon emissions is of particular interest in polar regions, such as the Arctic, which are especially sensitive to the effects of black carbon. When black carbon particles settle on snow and ice, they darken the surface and enhance absorption of solar radiation, thus increasing the rate of melting (Clarke and Noone, 1985). Black carbon is not emitted on its own, but as a component of particulate matter less than or equal to 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5), along with other components, such as organic carbon and inorganic compounds, such as sulfates.

The Arctic Council was one of the first fora to recognize the importance of taking action to address short-lived climate forcers and pollutants, such as black carbon, methane and ground-level ozone. During Canada’s chairpersonship (2013 to 2015), the Council first promoted actions to achieve enhanced reductions of black carbon and methane emissions. A key component of these actions is the voluntary reporting by Arctic states of their black carbon emissions to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in accordance with guidelines developed under the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). On November 28, 2017, Canada ratified the Gothenburg Protocol and its 2012 amendments under LRTAP. The amendments to the Gothenburg Protocol, that came into force in October 2019, include new commitments to reduce emissions of particulate matter and, in doing so, to prioritize sources of particulate matter that are also significant sources of black carbon. At the 2017 meeting of Arctic Council ministers, Canada, along with other Arctic states, renewed its commitment to take action to reduce black carbon emissions. As part of this commitment, Canada will continue to improve the quality and transparency of information related to black carbon emissions and to publish an annual black carbon inventory.

This document describes the 2020 edition of Canada’s annual inventory of anthropogenic black carbon emissions, covering years from 2013 to 2018. All emissions reported in this inventory are from anthropogenic (human) sources. Natural sources of black carbon, such as wildfires, are not included. Emissions are grouped in the same categories as those used in Canada’s Air Pollutant Emission Inventory (APEI). They are organized into seven source categories that are further broken down into 34 sectors and 9 associated subsectors. See Annex A for more details.

The estimates in this inventory are based on the best available information at the time of compilation. Estimates of PM2.5 emissions are consistent with those reported in Canada’s 2020 APEI. Please refer to the APEI Report (Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) 2020) for a description of estimation methods for PM2.5. See chapter 3 of the present report for more information on the black carbon inventory development.

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