Canadian Environmental Protection Act annual report 2018 to 2019: chapter 3

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3. Reporting programs and emission inventories

3.1 Reporting programs

There are 2 mandatory reporting programs under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA), which require facilities to report on their releases or emissions of specified substances into the environment. They are the:

Data for both programs is submitted through Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) Single Window Information Management (SWIM) system. Further information on the SWIM system is available online.

National Pollutant Release Inventory Reporting

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), Canada’s legislated, publicly accessible national inventory, collects information from Canadian industrial, commercial and institutional facilities on their releases (to air, water and land), disposals, and transfers of pollutants and other substances of concern. Since 1993, owners or operators of facilities that have met the NPRI reporting requirements have reported on an annual basis. Data collected under the NPRI is a key input to Canada’s comprehensive Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory (APEI) and the Black Carbon Inventory, described below.

NPRI data for the 2017 reporting year was published in preliminary form in July 2018 and in reviewed form in December 2018. Over 7000 facilities, located in every province and territory, reported to the NPRI for the 2017 reporting year (figure 11).


Figure 11. Location of facilities that reported to the NPRI for the 2017 reporting year

Figure 11: location of facilities that reported to the NPRI for the 2017 reporting year
Long description for figure 11

This map shows the location of facilities that met the 2017 NPRI reporting criteria, by industrial sector. Seven thousand and one (7001) facilities in the electricity, oil and gas extraction, mining and quarrying, manufacturing and other sectors reported to the NPRI for the 2017 reporting year. The map shows that the facilities are located in every province and territory, with the highest concentration being in Alberta.

Province Electricity
Manufacturing Mining and
quarrying
Oil and gas
extraction
Other
sectors
Total
Alberta 39 245 26 2 016 332 2 658
Ontario 51 1 126 102 3 355 1 637
Quebec 26 577 39 0 154 796
British Columbia 20 236 29 277 143 705
Saskatchewan 17 54 23 482 134 710
Manitoba 11 90 11 4 64 180
Nova Scotia 8 42 5 8 35 98
New Brunswick 4 42 5 0 18 69
Newfoundland & Labrador 21 9 7 4 22 63
Northwest Territories 26 0 4 2 5 37
Nunavut 25 0 5 0 3 33
Prince Edward Island 2 4 0 0 6 12
Yukon 1 0 1 0 1 3


The NPRI Multi-Stakeholder Work Group is the primary consultation mechanism for the NPRI program, with representatives from industry associations, environmental groups and Indigenous organizations providing input on changes to the requirements and other aspects of the program, such as tools to access the data. Consultations during 2018-2019 included a number of teleconferences and paper-based consultations. Consultations focused on proposed changes to the requirements for 2020 reporting, including changes to reporting of air pollutants to provide more information for air quality modelling and for certain substances such as naphthenic acids, dioxins, furans, and hexachlorobenzene.

In addition to the above-mentioned consultations, the NPRI program shares information and gathers ideas from stakeholders and the public. Activities include engaging users of NPRI data to get input on how to meet their needs; working collaboratively with other government programs and international organizations; and updating stakeholders regularly on the NPRI.

During 2018-2019, ECCC undertook a number of initiatives to respond to the needs of various users of NPRI data. For example, the Department held consultations on proposed changes to NPRI reporting requirements that are proposed to take effect for the 2020 reporting year (see section 3.1). ECCC also continued to improve the accessibility of datasets to facilitate analysis by data users with the publication of 2017 data.

Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program

ECCC requires annual reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from facilities (mostly large industrial operations) through its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP). The GHGRP is part of ECCC’s ongoing effort to develop, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, a nationally consistent, mandatory GHG reporting system, in order to meet the GHG reporting needs of all jurisdictions and to minimize the reporting burden for industry and government.

Key objectives of the GHGRP are to provide Canadians with consistent information on facility‑level GHG emissions, to support regulatory initiatives, and to support the National GHG Inventory. The data collected are also shared with provinces and territories.

In January 2019, a notice was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I requiring the reporting of GHG emissions for the 2019 calendar year. As part of phase 2 of the program expansion, the notice included the following changes from previous years: enhanced reporting and methodological requirements for facilities in nine additional industry sectors, including facilities engaged in electricity and heat generation, petroleum refining, pulp and paper manufacturing, mining, base metal smelting/refining, and the production of ethanol, ammonia, nitric acid and hydrogen. These changes build from similar expanded reporting requirements that were issued in 2017 (phase 1).

The 2017 reporting cycle marks the first year of the expansion to the program where one key change was the lowering of the reporting threshold from 50 000 to 10 000 tonnes CO2 equivalent. This resulted in an additional 953 facilities reporting for the first time to the GHGRP in June 2018. The 2017 facility-reported data was made publicly available in April 2019. Information about the GHGRP, as well as the phase 2 consultations and the outcomes, which were posted in December 2018 are available online.

3.2 Emission and release inventories

ECCC compiles and maintains 5 inventories of substances released into the environment. These are the:

National Pollutant Release Inventory

NPRI information is a major starting point for identifying and monitoring sources of pollution in Canada, and in developing indicators for the quality of our air, land and water. The NPRI helps determine if regulatory or other action is necessary to ensure reductions, and if so, the form that action should take. Public access to the NPRI data through an annual data highlights, an online data search tool, location-based data for use in mapping and downloadable datasets encourages industry to prevent and reduce pollutant releases, and improves public understanding about pollution and environmental performance in Canada.

In 2017, 7 001 facilities reported to the NPRI a total of 4 920 807 tonnes covering over 320 substances (figure 12):


Figure 12. Breakdown of total quantities reported in 2017, by reporting category

Figure 12: breakdown of total quantities reported in 2017, by reporting category
Long description for figure 12

This graphic shows the breakdown of total quantities of pollutant releases reported in 2017, by reporting category. Sixty-six percent were direct releases. Thirty-four percent were disposals and transfers.

Breakdown of the total quantities reported in 2017, by reporting category
Direct releases category Reported quantities (tonnes) Percentage of total reported quantities
Criteria air contaminants 2 998 983 61%
Air (other substances) 78 002 2%
Water 133 846 3%
Land 15 672 <1%
Unspecified media (less than one tonne) 403 <1%
Total reported releases 3 226 906 66%
Disposals and transfers category Reported quantities (tonnes) Percentage of total reported quantities
On-site disposals 235 974 5%
Off-site disposals 100 683 2%
Treatment prior to disposal 46 438 1%
Tailings 845 402 17%
Waste rock 177 076 4%
Transfers for off-site recycling 288 328 6%
Total reported disposals and transfers 1 693 901 34%

Total quantities reported to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI): 4 920 807 tonnes

Source: NPRI data from September 13th, 2018


Between 2008 and 2017, releases to the environment reported to the NPRI decreased by nearly 21% (845 277 tonnes) (figure 13). In particular:


Figure 13. Total direct releases between 2008 and 2017

Figure 13: total direct releases between 2008 and 2017
Long description for figure 13

This graph shows the total direct releases to air, water, and land by percentage from 2008 to 2017.

Total direct releases between 2008 and 2017
Year Releases to air -criteria air contaminants (tonnes) Releases to air - other substances (tonnes) Releases to water (tonnes) Releases to land (tonnes) Releases to unspecified media (tonnes) Number of NPRI reporting facilities
2008 3 837 010 102 783 124 097 7 504 789 8 843
2009 3 376 496 93 243 119 424 6 000 1 088 8 529
2010 3 364 494 92 744 117 387 11 167 1 924 8 151
2011 3 195 281 80 061 122 527 8 661 28 8 000
2012 3 243 177 83 395 124 420 7 022 309 7 792
2013 3 225 169 85 369 126 717 11 962 90 7 854
2014 3 085 601 83 521 202 028 13 115 404 7 856
2015 2 993 718 80 477 126 908 12 810 391 7 349
2016 2 954 723 82 701 131 763 17 009 401 7 130
2017 2 998 983 78 002 133 846 15 672 403 7 001

Source: NPRI data from September 13th, 2018


Between 2008 and 2017, total disposals and transfers decreased by 4% (74 382 tonnes) (figure 14). In particular:


Figure 14. Total disposals and transfers between 2008 and 2017

Figure 14: total disposals and transfers between 2008 and 2017
Long description for figure 14

This graph shows the total disposals and transfers of pollutants between 2008 and 2017.

Total disposals and transfers between 2008 and 2017
Year On-site disposals (tonnes) Off-site disposals (tonnes) Tailings (tonnes) Waste rock (tonnes)
2008 274 698 533 919 554 793 9 981
2009 267 439 511 789 520 248 11 992
2010 249 659 545 821 617 181 17 433
2011 284 021 341 633 580 220 15 459
2012 242 694 307 551 647 993 31 693
2013 238 553 119 802 692 770 125 261
2014 272 784 98 359 672 048 102 247
2015 269 383 99 444 738 613 79 647
2016 229 023 89 962 780 557 128 731
2017 235 974 100 683 845 402 177 076
Year Treatment prior to disposal (tonnes) Off-site transfers for recycling (tonnes) Number of NPRI reporting facilities
2008 52 449 342 443 8 843
2009 46 189 344 001 8 529
2010 49 873 389 365 8 151
2011 39 578 457 950 8 000
2012 37 396 320 985 7 792
2013 36 559 302 154 7 854
2014 42 786 306 249 7 865
2015 36 372 311 463 7 349
2016 39 366 308 477 7 130
2017 46 438 288 328 7 001

Source: NPRI data from September 13th, 2018


Pollution prevention data submitted to the NPRI is analyzed and outlined in the NPRI annual highlights. Pollution prevention activity data submitted by facilities is also summarized on the “How your business can prevent pollution” webpage, which provides an overview and examples of the implementation of the seven common pollution prevention techniques among Canadian facilities.

Air Pollutant Emission Inventory

Canada’s Air Pollutant Emission Inventory (APEI) is a comprehensive inventory of air pollutant emissions at the national, provincial and territorial level primarily based on data in the NPRI. Since 1990, the APEI compiled emissions of 17 air pollutants contributing to smog, acid rain and poor air quality.

This inventory serves many purposes including fulfilling Canada’s international reporting obligations under the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) and the associated protocols ratified by Canada for the reduction of emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter (PM), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), dioxins and furans, and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The APEI also supports monitoring and reporting obligations under the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement, the development of air quality management strategies, policies and regulations, provides data for air quality forecasting models, and informs Canadians about pollutants that affect their health and the environment.

According to the APEI, 14 of the 17 reported air pollutants show decreases compared to historical levels.


Figure 15. Emissions trends for selected air pollutants in Canada, 1990 to 2017

Figure 15: emissions trends for selected air pollutants in Canada, 1990 to 2017
Long description for figure 15

This graph shows, by percentage, the changes in emissions of ammonia, fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds carbon monoxide and sulphur oxides in Canada from 1990 to 2017.

Air pollutant emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2017
Year Sulphur oxides
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Nitrogen oxides
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Volatile organic compounds
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Ammonia
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Carbon monoxide
(percentage change from 1990 level)
Fine particulate matter
(percentage change from 1990 level)
1990 0 0 0 0 0 0
1991 -7 -4 -2 -1 -2 -2
1992 -11 -2 -2 2 -3 -5
1993 -14 0 1 3 0 -5
1994 -21 5 2 6 0 -3
1995 -16 8 2 13 -2 -7
1996 -16 11 1 17 -5 -7
1997 -18 17 -1 19 -8 -6
1998 -19 19 -1 19 -8 -13
1999 -22 22 -4 18 -10 -13
2000 -22 21 -6 20 -12 -14
2001 -22 15 -14 20 -19 -17
2002 -24 13 -14 23 -21 -19
2003 -26 11 -17 22 -23 -21
2004 -26 6 -18 25 -28 -23
2005 -30 2 -23 24 -36 -24
2006 -36 -4 -26 21 -40 -24
2007 -38 -4 -28 22 -41 -21
2008 -44 -7 -29 20 -43 -18
2009 -52 -13 -34 16 -46 -25
2010 -56 -12 -33 14 -46 -20
2011 -59 -14 -38 13 -50 -19
2012 -59 -18 -37 17 -51 -14
2013 -59 -20 -36 21 -52 -15
2014 -61 -22 -36 19 -53 -14
2015 -65 -25 -38 19 -54 -15
2016 -66 -27 -40 19 -54 -15
2017 -69 -26 -40 19 -54 -15


Black carbon (BC) is a short-lived, small aerosol (or airborne) particle linked to both climate warming and adverse health effects.

As a member of the Arctic Council, Canada has committed to producing an annual inventory of black carbon emissions. The associated report serves to inform Canadians about black carbon emissions and provide valuable information for the development of air quality management strategies.

The data used to quantify black carbon emissions are taken from the Air Pollutant Emission Inventory, specifically fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions from combustion-related sources, such as transportation and mobile equipment and home firewood burning.

According to Canada’s 2019 Black Carbon Emission Inventory the following trends were observed (see figure 16):


Figure 16. Canada’s black carbon emissions trends, 2013 to 2017

Figure 16: Canada’s black carbon emissions trends 2013 to 2017
Long description for figure 16

This graph shows Canada’s black carbon emissions trends (in tonnes) from 2013 to 2017, for the oil and gas industry; commercial/residential/institutional; transportation and mobile equipment; and other sectors.

Trends in Canadian black carbon emissions (2013 to 2017) (tonnes)
Sector 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Other 1 249 1 140 1 112 1 027 1 076
Upstream Oil and Gas Industry 2 527 2 875 2 812 2 556 2 871
Commercial/Residential/Institutional 12 707 12 688 12 560 12 638 12 609
Transportation and Mobile Equipment 27 830 26 520 22 003 19 328 19 752


Facility Greenhouse Gas Emissions Overview

In 2017, 1622 facilities reported their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, totalling 292 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq). The 2017 reporting cycle marks the first year of the expansion to the federal GHG reporting program (GHGRP) - the reporting threshold was lowered to 10 kilotonnes (kt) CO2 eq and certain facilities in targeted sectors were also required to provide additional data. CO2 represented the majority (93%) of the total reported emissions in 2017, while methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions contributed 6% and 1%, respectively.

The indicator for greenhouse gas emissions from large facilities provides consistent information on emissions from the largest emitting facilities in Canada and is published annually.


Figure 17. Greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 from large facilities

Figure 17: greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 from large facilities
Long description for figure 17

The map of Canada displays the 2017 greenhouse gas emissions from facilities across Canada (excluding pipeline transportation systems). Facilities are represented as colour-coded dots according to 6 classes of emissions ranging from below 50 to over 2 000 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.


The latest indicator, based on data reported to the GHG Reporting Program, shows that:

National Greenhouse Gas Inventory

As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Canada is obligated to prepare and submit an annual national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory covering anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks. ECCC is responsible for preparing Canada’s official national inventory with input from numerous experts and scientists across Canada. The National Inventory Report (NIR) contains Canada’s annual GHG emission estimates dating back to 1990. In addition to providing GHG emission data by mandatory reporting categories, the NIR also presents emission data by Canadian economic sectors, which better support policy analysis and development.

The NIR, along with the Common Reporting Format (CRF) tables, comprise Canada’s inventory submission to the UNFCCC and are prepared in accordance with the UNFCCC Reporting Guidelines on annual inventories.

The National GHG Inventory shows that:


Figure 18. Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions trend, 1990 to 2017

Figure 18: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions trend 1990 to 2017
Long description for figure 18

Figure 18 shows a graph of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions trend in megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from 1990 to 2017. In 2017, Canada’s total GHG emissions were 716 Mt Co2 eq above the 1990 emissions, and a net decrease of 15 Mt Co2 eq from 2005 emissions.

Year kt CO2 E Mt CO2 e
1990 602 187 602
1991 593 403 593
1992 610 442 610
1993 612 265 612
1994 633 676 634
1995 651 013 651
1996 672 050 672
1997 686 988 687
1998 694 532 695
1999 707 377 707
2000 730 591 731
2001 719 742 720
2002 724 353 724
2003
741 011 741
2004 742 980 743
2005 730 361 730
2006 721 463 721
2007 743 812 744
2008 723 238 723
2009 681 711 682
2010 692 633 693
2011 703 393 703
2012 711 037 711
2013 722 077 722
2014 723 101 723
2015 722 001 722
2016 707 736 708
2017 715 759.8 716


Further information on the National GHG Inventory is available online.

Please note that inventories mentioned above are available on the departmental data catalogue and the Open Data Portal.

3.3 Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators

The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program reports on key environmental sustainability issues including climate change, air quality, water quality and availability, wildlife, biodiversity, habitat, pollution, waste and toxic substances. It is designed to convey the state of Canada’s environment, including historical trends, in a straightforward and transparent manner. CESI is used to inform citizens, Parliamentarians, policy makers and researchers with comprehensive, unbiased and authoritative environmental information. The CESI program responds to ECCC's commitments under CEPA and the Department of the Environment Act to report to Canadians on the state of the environment and is the prime instrument to measure progress of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

Table 16. Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) updates and new releases in 2018-2019 

Month

Indicator

April 2018

  • Greenhouse gas emissions indicators

May 2018

  • Status of wild species
  • Metal mining effluent quality

June 2018

  • Changes in the status of wildlife species at risk
  • Species at risk population trends
  • Ecological integrity of national parks
  • Drinking water advisories

July 2018

  • Canada’s conserved area
  • Pulp and paper effluent quality
  • Marine pollution spills

August 2018

  • Air pollutant emissions
  • Emissions of harmful substances to air
  • Human exposure to harmful substances
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in fish and sediment
  • Releases of harmful substances to water
  • Status of major fish stocks
  • Sustainability of timber harvest
  • Sustainable fish harvest

September 2018

  • Metal mining effluent quality
  • Nutrients in Lake Winnipeg
  • Shellfish harvest area quality
  • Air health trends

October 2018

  • Air quality
  • Restoring the Great Lakes Areas of Concern

November 2018

  • International comparison: air pollutant emissions in selected countries
  • Number of drinking water advisories affecting first nations drinking water systems

December 2018

  • Nutrients in the St. Lawrence River
  • Solid waste diversion and disposal

January 2019

  • Water quality in Canadian rivers
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate in fish and water
  • Progress towards Canada's greenhouse gas emissions reduction target

February 2019

  • Changes in the status of wildlife species at risk
  • Species at risk population trends
  • Sea ice in Canada

ECCC prepares the indicators through close collaboration with science and data experts across the federal government, including Health Canada, Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as relevant provincial and territorial counterparts. The data used to calculate indicators originate from a variety of sources, including surveys, measurement networks and other research initiatives that are expected to be maintained and updated for the foreseeable future.

The indicators are published on the CESI website showing national and regional results along with the methodology explaining each indicator and links to related socio-economic issues and information. CESI also has an interactive map that enables the user to quickly explore Canada's local and regional environmental indicators.

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