Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Annual Report to Parliament for April 2019 to March 2020: chapter 4

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4. Reporting programs and emission inventories

4.1 Reporting programs

There 2 mandatory reporting programs under CEPA, which require facilities to report on their releases or emissions of specified substances into the environment are:

Data for both programs is submitted through ECCC’s 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. NPRI data for the 2018 reporting year was submitted to ECCC by June 3, 2019 (see Emission and release inventories for reporting details). The publication of the 2018 data was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February 2020, the department published updated NPRI reporting requirements that take effect for the 2020 reporting year, including a number of changes that will improve the information available through the NPRI.

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 2019-2020 included a number of teleconferences and paper-based consultations, as well as a face-to-face meeting in June 2019. 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 the addition of certain substances such as PREPOD, BENPAT and azo disperse dyes.

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 2019-2020, ECCC undertook a number of initiatives to better understand and respond to the needs of various users of NPRI data, including a survey and a workshop.

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 February 2020, a notice was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, requiring the reporting of GHG emissions for the 2019 calendar year. The 2019 reporting cycle continues the additional requirements introduced in the first 2 phases of the expansion implemented in 2017 and 2018. The expansion includes enhanced reporting and methodological requirements for 14 industry sectors as well as a drop in the reporting threshold (50 000 tonnes to 10 000 tonnes CO2 equivalent). Information about the GHGRP is available online.

4.2 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 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 2018, 7699 facilities (figure 10) reported to the NPRI a total of approximately 5 million tonnes of pollutants covering over 320 substances (figure 11):


Figure 10: location of facilities that reported to the NPRI for the 2018 reporting year

Figure 10. Location of facilities that reported to the NPRI for the 2018 reporting year
Long description for figure 10

This map shows the location of facilities that met the 2018 NPRI reporting criteria, by industrial sector. There are 7699 facilities in the electricity, oil and gas extraction, mining and quarrying, manufacturing and other sectors reported to the NPRI for the 2018 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 42 256 24 2511 196 3029
Ontario 55 1165 105 60 306 1691
Quebec 25 596 40 15 141 817
British Columbia 22 234 31 319 99 705
Saskatchewan 17 60 23 766 103 969
Manitoba 13 95 9 12 52 181
Nova Scotia 8 41 4 12 30 95
New Brunswick 4 43 4 4 15 70
Newfoundland & Labrador 20 9 7 7 11 54
Northwest Territories 26 0 4 5 1 36
Nunavut 25 0 5 0 3 33
Prince Edward Island 2 3 0 1 5 11
Yukon 6 0 1 0 1 8
Total 265 2502 257 3712 963 7699


Figure 11: breakdown of total quantities reported in 2018, by reporting category

Figure 11. Breakdown of total quantities reported in 2018, by reporting category
Long description for figure 11

In this diagram, each circle represents a different reporting category under the NPRI. The size of the circle indicates the relative amount of the material that was released in that category. The actual amounts of each reporting category are listed in the table below.

Direct releases category Reported quantities
(tonnes)
Air 2 638 211
Water 147 429
Land 15 492
Unspecified media (less than one tonne) 348
Total reported releases 2 801 480
On-site disposals 252 810
Off-site disposals 99 370
Treatment prior to disposal 45 644
Tailings 872 614
Waste rock 145 753
Transfers for off-site recycling 331 963
Total reported disposals and transfers 1 748 154


Between 2009 and 2018, releases to the environment reported to the NPRI decreased by 794 771 tonnes. In particular:

Between 2009 and 2018, total disposals and transfers increased by 46 495 tonnes. In particular:

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 Canadian companies are preventing pollution” webpage, which provides an overview and examples of the implementation of the 7 common pollution prevention techniques among Canadian facilities.

Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory

Canada’s Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory (APEI) is a comprehensive inventory of air pollutant emissions at the national, provincial and territorial level primarily developed using 2 types of information: 1) facility-reported data primarily from the NPRI and 2) in-house estimates, including diffuse sources and other sources that are too numerous to be accounted for individually. Since 1990, the APEI has compiled emissions of 17 air pollutants contributing to smog, acid rain and reduced 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 various types of emissions. These include sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter (PM), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), dioxins and furans (D/F), 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 (see figure 12). A few key sources of pollutants account for a significant portion of the downward trends in emissions (see table 20).

Table 20: percentage reductions of air pollutants from 1990 to 2018 from major sources
Source Pollutant Percentage decrease 1990-2018

Non-ferrous refining and smelting

  • major source of the these pollutants
SOx 89%

Non-ferrous refining and smelting

  • major source of the these pollutants
Pb 88%

Non-ferrous refining and smelting

  • major source of the these pollutants
Cd 95%

Non-ferrous refining and smelting

  • major source of the these pollutants
Hg 99%

Non-ferrous refining and smelting

  • major source of the these pollutants
HCB (hexachlorobenzene) 60%

Home firewood burning

  • adoption of more modern wood combustion equipment
PM2.5 39%

Home firewood burning

  • adoption of more modern wood combustion equipment
VOC 36%

Home firewood burning

  • adoption of more modern wood combustion equipment
CO (carbon monoxide) 29%

Home firewood burning

  • adoption of more modern wood combustion equipment
D/F (dioxins and furans) 23%

Home firewood burning

  • adoption of more modern wood combustion equipment
PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) 26%

Coal-fired electric power generation

  • closing of coal-fired power plants
SOx 59%

Coal-fired electric power generation

  • closing of coal-fired power plants
Hg 71%

Coal-fired electric power generation

  • closing of coal-fired power plants
HCB 97%

Light-duty gasoline trucks and vehicles

  • effective fuel and engine regulations
NOx 58%

Light-duty gasoline trucks and vehicles

  • effective fuel and engine regulations
PAH 63%

Transportation associated with combustion of gasoline

  • effective fuel and engine regulations
VOC 66%

Transportation associated with combustion of gasoline

  • effective fuel and engine regulations
CO 63%

Waste incineration

  • improvements in incineration technologies
HCB 93%

Waste incineration

  • improvements in incineration technologies
D/F 94%

Despite significant decreases, emissions of some pollutants, including Pb and PM2.5, have begun to rise again in recent years.

In addition, a 39% increase in total particulate matter (TPM) and 30% increase in PM10 emissions since 1990 contrast with the general trends described above; these increases are largely due to increased transportation on unpaved roads as well as construction operations. Another exception to the general downward trends is the steady increase in emissions of ammonia (NH3), which were 21% above 1990 levels in 2018; the recent upward trend in NH3 emissions is driven by fertilizer application. Historically, animal production contributed to increasing emissions until 2005, but this emission source has since decreased. Rising fertilizer emissions and decreasing animal emissions have resulted in relatively stable emissions over the past 10 to 15 years.


Figure 12: emissions trends for selected air pollutants in Canada, 1990 to 2018

Figure 12. Emissions trends for selected air pollutants in Canada, 1990 to 2018
Long description for figure 12

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 2018.

Air pollutant emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2018
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 -3 -2 -1 -2 -3
1992 -11 -2 -2 2 -3 -5
1993 -14 1 1 3 0 -6
1994 -21 6 2 6 0 -4
1995 -16 8 2 13 -2 -8
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 -14
2000 -22 21 -6 20 -12 -16
2001 -22 15 -14 20 -19 -18
2002 -24 13 -14 23 -21 -21
2003 -26 11 -17 22 -23 -22
2004 -25 6 -18 25 -28 -26
2005 -29 2 -21 24 -36 -27
2006 -36 -5 -25 21 -40 -26
2007 -37 -4 -26 22 -41 -23
2008 -43 -7 -27 20 -43 -19
2009 -52 -13 -33 16 -46 -26
2010 -55 -12 -32 14 -46 -21
2011 -58 -14 -37 14 -49 -19
2012 -59 -19 -36 18 -51 -13
2013 -59 -21 -35 21 -52 -13
2014 -61 -23 -35 19 -53 -13
2015 -65 -26 -36 19 -54 -12
2016 -66 -28 -39 20 -54 -12
2017 -69 -26 -39 17 -54 -12
2018 -73 -25 -37 21 -54 -11


Inventory of black carbon emissions

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 based on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions from combustion-related sources, such as transportation and mobile equipment and home firewood burning, taken from the Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory.

According to Canada’s 2020 Black Carbon Emission Inventory report, the following trends were observed (see figure 13):


Figure 13: Canada’s black carbon emissions trends, 2013 to 2018

Figure 13. Canada’s black carbon emissions trends, 2013 to 2018
Long description for figure 13

Figure 13 is a stacked area graph displaying the trends in the Canadian black carbon emissions from 4 source categories. The 4 source categories are the following: Transportation and Mobile Equipment, Commercial/Residential/Institutional, Upstream Oil and Gas Industry, and Other. The following table displays the emissions in tonnes (t) for the years 2013 to 2018.

Sector Year
2013
Year
2014
Year
2015
Year
2016
Year
2017
Year
2018
Sector 1 - Other 1 493 1 376 1 326 1 234 1 321 1 215
Sector 2 - Upstream Oil and Gas Industry 2 174 2 461 2 327 2 082 2 217 2 252
Sector 3 - Commercial/Residential/ Institutional 12 707 12 688 12 560 12 638 12 629 12 616
Sector 4 - Transportation and Mobile Equipment 27 317 25 995 21 514 18 787 20 053 21 154


Facility Greenhouse Gas Emissions Overview

In 2018, 1706 facilities reported their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (see figure 14), totaling 295 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq). The 2018 reporting cycle marks the first year of Phase 2 of the expansion to the federal GHG reporting program (GHGRP) in which certain facilities in targeted sectors were also required to provide additional data. The reported emissions are largely distributed across 3 sectors: (1) Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction (38%), (2) Manufacturing (30%), and (3) Utilities (25%).

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 14: greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 from large facilities

Figure 14. Greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 from large facilities
Long description for figure 14

The map of Canada displays the 2018 greenhouse gas emissions from 1706 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 2000 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Data for each site on the map can be found on the Greenhouse gas emissions from large facilities web page.


The latest indicator, based on data reported to the GHG Reporting Program, shows that emissions from the reporting facilities account for 40% of Canada's total GHG emissions in 2018.

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 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 the following trends:


Figure 15: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions trend, 1990 to 2018

Figure 15. Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions trend, 1990 to 2018
Long description for figure 15

Figure 15 is a line graph displaying annual GHG emissions (Mt CO2 eq.) in Canada from 1990 to 2018. The following table lists these annual emissions.

Year GHG emissions
(Mt)
1990 603
1991 595
1992 612
1993 615
1994 636
1995 653
1996 675
1997 686
1998 693
1999 707
2000 731
2001 720
2002 724
2003 740
2004 742
2005 730
2006 721
2007 742
2008 723
2009 680
2010 691
2011 702
2012 710
2013 721
2014 721
2015 720
2016 706
2017 714
2018 729


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.

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