Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Annual Report to Parliament for April 2020 to March 2021:
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- 4. Reporting programs and emission inventories
4. Reporting programs and emission inventories
There are 2 mandatory reporting programs under CEPA, which require facilities to report on their releases or emissions of specified substances into the environment, and ECCC compiles and maintains 5 inventories of substances released into the environment using the information reported.
4.1 Reporting programs
The 2 mandatory programs under CEPA, which require facilities to report on their releases or emissions of specified substances into the environment are:
- National Pollutant Release Inventory
- Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program
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
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 requirements have reported on an annual basis.
- NPRI data for the 2019 reporting year was submitted to ECCC by July 31, 2020 (see section 4.2 below for details on the data). Reviewed data for 2019 was published on March 21, 2021. The deadlines for reporting on the 2019 data and its publication were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 2020-2021 included a number of virtual meetings and consultations on proposals for specific changes. Consultations focused on proposed changes to the requirements for 2022 reporting, including changes to reporting of air pollutants to provide more information for air quality modelling and for the addition of chlorhexidine (and its salts) to the NPRI.
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.
Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program
ECCC requires annual reporting of 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 maintain and continuously enhance, 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 inform the development of the National GHG Inventory, and to support regulatory initiatives. 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. An amendment was subsequently issued in May, extending the reporting deadline to provide facilities more time to submit their 2019 emission reports due to impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The 2019 reporting cycle continued the additional requirements introduced in 2017 as part of an expansion to the GHG Reporting Program. The expansion to date 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). ECCC will continue to assess the need for further expansion in future years
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
- Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory
- Black Carbon Emissions Inventory
- Facility-level Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
- National Greenhouse Gas Inventory
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.
The most recent NRPI data available at the time of publication is for the 2019 reporting year. In 2019, 7362 facilities (Figure 9) reported to the NPRI approximately 4.89 million tonnes of pollutants covering over 320 substances (Figure 10):
- 2.94 million tonnes of pollutants were released directly to the environment
- 1.57 million tonnes were disposed to landfills, applied to land or injected underground, either on the facility site or off-site
- 379 185 tonnes were transferred off the facility site for treatment prior to final disposal or for recycling and energy recovery
Figure 9. Location of facilities that reported to the NPRI for the 2019 reporting year
Long description for Figure 9
Map of facilities reporting to the NPRI for 2019, by industry sector
|Province/Territory||Electricity||Manufacturing||Mining and quarrying||Oil and gas extraction||Other sectors||Total|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||17||9||9||6||13||54|
|Prince Edward Island||2||4||0||1||3||10|
Figure 10. Breakdown of total quantities reported in 2019, by reporting category
Long description for Figure 10
|Direct releases||Reported quantities (tonnes)|
|Air||2 783 062|
(in other words, less than one tonne)
|Total reported releases||2 940 163|
|Disposals and transfers||Reported quantities (tonnes)|
|On-site disposals||350 234|
|Off-site disposals||109 021|
|Treatment prior to disposal||52 070|
|Waste rock||289 904|
|Transfers for off-site recycling||327 116|
|Total reported disposals and transfer||1 950 249|
Between 2010 and 2019, releases to the environment to all media reported to the NPRI decreased by 656 088 tonnes. In particular:
- releases to air decreased by 666 178 tonnes
- releases to water increased by 20 248 tonnes
- releases to land increased by 6012 tonnes
- releases of substances (in exemple, unspecified media) where the total release quantity was less than 1 tonne increased by 130 tonnes
Between 2010 and 2019, total disposals and transfers increased by 24 945 tonnes. In particular:
- off-site disposals decreased by 609 872 tonnes
- on-site disposals increased by 100 575 tonnes
- off-site transfers for recycling decreased by 60 710 tonnes
- disposals of waste rock (rock removed to reach ore) increased by 272 470 tonnes
- disposals of tailings (materials left when minerals are removed from ore) increased by 149 329 tonnes
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:
- facility-reported data primarily from the NPRI
- 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 air pollutant emissions. These include sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), dioxins and furans (D/F), and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The APEI also reports emissions of additional air pollutants including ammonia (NH3), carbon monoxide (CO), coarse particulate matter (PM10) and total particulate matter (TPM).
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.
As of February 2021, the most recent estimates of air pollutant emissions are for 1990 to 2019. According to the APEI, 14 of the 17 reported air pollutants show decreases compared to historical levels (see Figure 11). A few key sources of pollutants account for a significant portion of the downward trends in emissions (see Table 19).
Table 19. Percentage reductions of air pollutants from 1990-2019 from major sources.
|Source||Pollutant||Percentage decrease 1990-2019|
Non-ferrous refining and smelting
Home firewood burning
|CO (carbon monoxide)||19%|
|PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)||4%|
Coal-fired electric power generation
Light-duty gasoline trucks and vehicles
Transportation associated with combustion of gasoline
|Dioxins and Furans||94%|
Despite significant decreases in emissions of most pollutants, since 2005 emissions of particulate matter have risen by 49% (TPM), 44% (PM10) and 25% (PM2.5). 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 20% above 1990 levels in 2019, although 3% below 2005 levels. The upward trend in NH3 emissions is driven by nitrogen fertilizer use in crop production.
Figure 11. Emissions trends for selected air pollutants in Canada, 1990 to 2019
Long description for Figure 11
The graph shows the following data for 6 air pollutants.
|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)|
Inventory of black carbon emissions
Canada produces an annual inventory of black carbon emissions as part of its commitments under the Arctic Council Framework for Action on Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions. 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 Emission Inventory.
According to Canada’s 2021 Black Carbon Emission Inventory report, the following trends are notable (see Figure 12).
- In 2019, approximately 31 kilotonnes (kt) of black carbon were emitted from vehicles, equipment, and combustion of fuel related to human activities.
- The largest sources of black carbon emissions are transportation and mobile equipment (notably diesel engines from on-road and off-road transport) and Commercial/Residential/Institutional category fuel combustion, most notably from home firewood burning, accounting for 19 kt (61%) and 8.6 kt (28%) respectively, of total emissions in 2019.
- Since 2013, black carbon emissions have decreased by 5.4 kt (15%), even though black carbon emissions have increased by 2.8 kt (9.8%) since 2016.
Figure 12. Canada’s black carbon emissions trends, 2013 to 2019
Long description for Figure 12
The figure is a stacked area graph displaying the trends in Canadian black carbon emissions from four categories. The four categories are the following: Oil and Gas Industry, Commercial/Residential/Institutional, Transportation and Mobile Equipment and Other. The following table displays the emissions in tonnes (t) for the years 2013-2019.
|Black Carbon Emissions (tonnes)|
|Sector 1: Other||1419||1317||1274||1166||1229||1124||1135|
|Sector 2: Oil and Gas Industry||2175||2462||2316||2079||2208||2248||2278|
|Sector 3: Commercial/Residential/Institutional||9027||9063||8689||8226||8314||8656||8637|
|Sector 4: Transportation and Mobile Equipment||23 953||22 083||19 711||16 926||18 083||19 147||19 122|
|Total||36 574||34 926||31 989||28 397||29 834||31 175||31 172|
Facility-level Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
Accurate and consistent tracking of GHG emissions from individual facilities contributes to ECCC’s efforts to monitor environmental performance and develop policies related to climate change by providing a more precise picture of emission levels from large emitters in Canada. The most recent data available is for the 2019 reporting year.
- In 2019, 1700 facilities reported their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (see Figure 13), totaling 293 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq). The 2019 reporting cycle is the third year under the expanded federal GHG reporting program (GHGRP) in which certain facilities are required to provide additional data. The reported emissions are largely distributed across 3 sectors: (1) Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction (39%), (2) Manufacturing (30%), and (3) Utilities (24%).
The complete data set of greenhouse gas emissions from large facilities and the corresponding indicator provides consistent information on emissions from the largest emitting facilities in Canada and is published annually.
The latest data reported to the GHG Reporting Program, shows that emissions from the reporting facilities account for 40% of Canada's total GHG emissions in 2019.
Figure 13. Greenhouse gas emissions from large facilities in 2019
Long description for Figure 13
The map of Canada displays the 2019 greenhouse gas emissions from 1 700 facilities across Canada (excluding pipeline transportation systems). Facilities are represented as colour-coded points according to 6 groupings of emissions ranging from below 50 to over 2 000 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The distribution of facilities is uneven across the country, reflecting the concentration of large industrial emitters in certain provinces relative to others.
Data for each site on the map can be found at: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/environmental-indicators/greenhouse-gas-emissions/large-facilities.html
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 NIR published in 2021 provides data up to 2019.
The National GHG Inventory shows the following trends:
- After fluctuations in recent years, in 2019 Canada’s GHG emissions were 730 megatonnes of carbon dioxide (Mt CO2 eq) (see Figure 14), about 1Mt or 0.2% increase from 2018 emissions and a net decrease of 9 Mt or 1.1% from 2005 emissions.
- Over the long term, Canada’s economy has grown more rapidly than its GHG emissions: the emissions intensity for the entire economy (GHG per Gross Domestic Product [GDP]) has declined by 37% since 1990 and 23% since 2005.
- Emission trends since 2005 remain consistent, with emission increases in the Oil and Gas and Transportation sectors being offset by decreases in other sectors, notably Electricity and Heavy Industry.
Figure 14. Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions trend, 1990 to 2019
Long description for Figure 14
The graph shows the annual total greenhouse gas emissions from 1990-2019. The annual totals are listed in the table below. Greenhouse gas emissions from large facilities - Canada.ca
|Year||Total greenhouse gas emissions
(megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)
Note: Data are presented as rounded figures
Further information on the National GHG Inventory is available online.
Please note that inventories mentioned above are available on the Open Data Portal.
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