International comparison of air pollutant emissions

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Air pollution problems such as smog and acid rain result from the release of pollutants into the atmosphere. Canada's emissions of 5 key air pollutants are compared with those of top emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Sulphur oxides

Key results

In 2014, Canada:

  • saw a decrease of 50% in sulphur oxide (SOX) emissions from 2004 levels
  • ranked fourth highest in SOX emissions among OECD member countries
  • had the fourth highest ratio of SOX emissions to gross domestic product

Sulphur oxide emissions and emissions intensity of the top 10 emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014

Bar charts showing sulphur oxide emissions in kilotonnes and by emissions intensity. Long description below.
Long description

The two bar charts compare Canada's 2004 and 2014 sulphur oxide emissions in kilotonnes (left chart), and emissions intensity in tonnes per million United States dollars of gross domestic product (right chart) with those of 9 top emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with available data for both reported years, namely the United States, Australia, Turkey, Poland, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and France.

Data for this chart
Sulphur oxide emissions and emissions intensity of the top 10 emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014
Countries 2004 sulphur oxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2014 sulphur oxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2004 sulphur oxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product) 2014 sulphur oxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product)
United States 13 146 4441 0.94 0.27
Australia 2440 2287 3.07 2.19
Turkey 1881 2148 2.04 1.54
Canada 2263 1142 1.81 0.76
Poland 1249 800 2.05 0.90
Japan 1017 689 0.24 0.16
Germany 497 388 0.16 0.11
United Kingdom 834 307 0.38 0.12
Spain 1334 255 0.97 0.18
France 484 170 0.22 0.07
Sulphur oxide emissions and emissions intensity of other member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014
Countries 2004 sulphur oxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2014 sulphur oxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2004 sulphur oxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product) 2014 sulphur oxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product)
Greece 552 138 1.69 0.52
Italy 486 131 0.23 0.07
Czech Republic 212 127 0.90 0.43
New Zealand 87 74 0.72 0.49
Iceland 32 65 2.93 4.82
Portugal 192 47 0.70 0.17
Slovak Republic 96 45 0.98 0.31
Finland 84 44 0.44 0.21
Belgium 154 42 0.39 0.09
Estonia 88 41 3.36 1.24
Netherlands 64 29 0.09 0.04
Hungary 149 27 0.71 0.12
Sweden 37 24 0.11 0.06
Ireland 74 19 0.40 0.09
Norway 25 17 0.09 0.05
Austria 27 16 0.08 0.04
Denmark 29 11 0.13 0.05
Slovenia 51 9 1.03 0.16
Switzerland 15 8 0.04 0.02
Luxembourg 2 2 0.07 0.03
Korea 447 n/a 0.38 n/a
Israel 256 n/a 1.50 n/a
Chile n/a n/a n/a n/a
Latvia n/a n/a n/a n/a
Mexico n/a n/a n/a n/a

Note: n/a = not available.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.09 KB)

Note: Definitions of pollution sources and estimation methods may differ from country to country. Comparisons should be made with caution. Gross domestic product values are in millions of constant United States dollars, constant purchasing power parity, for the base year 2010. The use of purchasing power parity facilitates international comparison of gross domestic product by creating an equivalent purchasing power basis for each country compared.
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2016) OECD.Stat.

More information

Although Canada's SOX emissions declined by 50%, or 1120 kilotonnes, from 2004 to 2014, Canada ranked as one of the highest emitters among OECD member countries, behind the United States, Australia and Turkey. In 2014, the United States had the highest emissions but experienced the largest reduction (8705 kilotonnes) from 2004 levels.

The majority of the top 10 emitting member countries experienced declines in emissions between 2004 and 2014, with the exception of Turkey where emissions increased by 14%.

In terms of the ratio of SOX emissions to gross domestic product, all top 10 emitting member countries reported declines ranging between 24% and 82% from 2004 to 2014.

Among the 35 member countries of the OECD, 32 countries had SOX emissions data available for 2004 and 30 countries had 2014 data available for reporting.

For the latest national data and additional national information, see Canada's Air pollutant emissions indicators.

Nitrogen oxides

Key results

In 2014, Canada:

  • saw a decrease of 23% in nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions from 2004 levels
  • ranked third highest in NOX emissions among OECD member countries
  • had the second largest ratio of NOX emissions to gross domestic product

Nitrogen oxide emissions and emissions intensity of the top 10 emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014

Bar charts showing nitrogen oxide emissions in kilotonnes and by emissions intensity. Long description below.
Long description

The two bar charts compare Canada's 2004 and 2014 nitrogen oxide emissions in kilotonnes (left chart) and emissions intensity in tonnes per million United States dollars of gross domestic product (right chart) with those of 9 top emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with available data for both reported years, namely the United States, Australia, Japan, Germany, Turkey, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Italy.

Data for this chart
Nitrogen oxide emissions and emissions intensity of the top 10 emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014
Countries 2004 nitrogen oxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2014 nitrogen oxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2004 nitrogen oxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product) 2014 nitrogen oxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product)
United States 19 248 11 092 1.38 0.69
Australia 2160 2549 2.71 2.44
Canada 2506 1923 2.01 1.28
Japan 1952 1276 0.47 0.29
Germany 1649 1223 0.54 0.35
Turkey 839 1051 0.91 0.76
United Kingdom 1623 945 0.75 0.38
France 1473 883 0.67 0.37
Spain 1448 807 1.05 0.56
Italy 1310 795 0.63 0.40
Nitrogen oxide emissions and emissions intensity of the other member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014
Countries 2004 nitrogen oxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2014 nitrogen oxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2004 nitrogen oxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product) 2014 nitrogen oxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product)
Poland 828 798 1.43 0.99
Greece 398 249 1.28 0.54
Netherlands 369 240 0.55 0.04
Czech Republic 294 208 0.78 0.10
Belgium 288 181 1.28 0.48
Portugal 235 162 0.75 0.05
New Zealand 245 161 0.91 0.16
Austria 160 157 1.34 0.48
Norway 195 154 0.76 0.06
Finland 215 145 1.16 0.23
Sweden 186 126 0.55 0.07
Hungary 226 124 1.03 0.06
Denmark 207 121 1.04 0.13
Slovak Republic 98 80 1.05 0.38
Ireland 131 79 0.77 0.12
Switzerland 96 72 0.28 0.02
Slovenia 52 43 1.09 0.21
Estonia 47 31 1.35 0.03
Luxembourg 42 30 1.69 1.13
Iceland 27 21 2.71 5.51
Korea 1378 n/a 1.16 n/a
Israel 202 n/a 1.18 n/a
Chile n/a n/a n/a n/a
Latvia n/a n/a n/a n/a
Mexico n/a n/a n/a n/a

Note: n/a = not available.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.13 KB)

Note: Definitions of pollution sources and estimation methods may differ from country to country. Comparisons should be made with caution. Gross domestic product values are in millions of constant United States dollars, constant purchasing power parity, for the base year 2010. The use of purchasing power parity facilitates international comparison of gross domestic product by creating an equivalent purchasing power basis for each country compared.
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2016) OECD.Stat.

More information

In 2014, Canada ranked as one of the highest emitters among OECD member countries, behind the United States and Australia, despite a reduction of 23%, or 584 kilotonnes, in NOX emissions between 2004 and 2014. The United States experienced the largest reduction over that period (42%, or 8156 kilotonnes) but still ranked as the highest emitter. Emissions in 2014 were higher than in 2004 in Turkey and Australia, by 25% and 18% respectively, but were lower in all other top 10 emitting member countries.

Emissions intensity, the ratio of NOX emissions to gross domestic product, was lower in 2014 than it was in 2004 for all top 10 emitting member countries. The reductions in intensity were between 10% and 50%.

Among the 35 OECD member countries, 32 countries had NOX emissions data available for 2004 and 30 countries had 2014 data available for reporting.

For the latest national data and information, see Canada's Air pollutant emissions indicators.

Carbon monoxide

Key results

In 2014, Canada:

  • saw a decrease of 31% in carbon monoxide (CO) emissions from 2004 levels
  • ranked second highest in CO emissions among OECD member countries
  • had the largest ratio of CO emissions to gross domestic product

Carbon monoxide emissions and emissions intensity of the top 10 emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014

Bar charts showing carbon monoxide emissions in kilotonnes and by emissions intensity. Long description below.
Long description

The two bar charts compare Canada's 2004 and 2014 carbon monoxide emissions in kilotonnes (left chart) and emissions intensity in tonnes per million United States dollars of gross domestic product (right chart) with those of 9 top emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with available data for both reported years, namely the United States, France, Germany, Australia, Poland, Turkey, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Data for this chart
Carbon monoxide emissions and emissions intensity of the top 10 emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014
Countries 2004 carbon monoxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2014 carbon monoxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2004 carbon monoxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product) 2014 carbon monoxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product)
United States 75 383 49 945 5.41 3.09
Canada 9314 6381 7.47 4.26
France 5837 3085 2.64 1.28
Germany 3924 2959 1.30 0.86
Australia 4497 2707 5.65 2.59
Poland 2836 2704 4.66 3.05
Turkey 1912 2467 2.07 1.77
Italy 3547 2337 1.71 1.18
Japan 3389 2297 0.81 0.52
United Kingdom 3419 2068 1.58 0.84
Carbon monoxide emissions and emissions intensity of the other member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014
Countries 2004 carbon monoxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2014 carbon monoxide emissions (kilotonnes) 2004 carbon monoxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product) 2014 carbon monoxide emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product)
Spain 2318 2010 1.68 1.39
New Zealand 731 691 5.99 4.59
Netherlands 736 564 1.08 0.74
Austria 711 535 2.21 1.46
Czech Republic 766 532 3.24 1.82
Sweden 620 498 1.76 1.20
Greece 810 463 2.49 1.75
Belgium 812 351 2.08 0.79
Finland 495 349 2.58 1.71
Denmark 460 311 2.04 1.28
Hungary 594 289 2.84 1.26
Portugal 520 265 1.90 0.99
Norway 401 244 1.50 0.79
Slovak Republic 292 225 2.97 1.56
Switzerland 348 196 1.00 0.46
Estonia 169 126 6.46 3.84
Iceland 54 115 4.93 8.53
Ireland 218 113 1.19 0.53
Slovenia 159 108 3.18 1.91
Luxemburg 51 31 1.38 0.64
Korea 817 n/a 0.69 n/a
Israel 263 n/a 1.5 n/a
Chile n/a n/a n/a n/a
Latvia n/a n/a n/a n/a
Mexico n/a n/a n/a n/a

Note: n/a = not available.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.14 KB)

Note: Definitions of pollution sources and estimation methods may differ from country to country. Comparisons should be made with caution. Gross domestic product values are in millions of constant United States dollars, constant purchasing power parity, for the base year 2010. The use of purchasing power parity facilitates international comparison of gross domestic product by creating an equivalent purchasing power basis for each country compared.
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2016) OECD.Stat.

More information

In 2014, the United States was the highest CO emitting country, followed by Canada. Except for Turkey, the top 10 emitting member countries of the OECD experienced declines in emissions between 5% and 47% in 2014 from 2004 levels.

Declines were also observed in the ratio of CO emissions to gross domestic product between 2004 and 2014; they ranged from 15% to 54% for the top 10 emitting countries.

Among the 35 OECD member countries, 32 countries had CO emissions data available for 2004 and 30 countries had 2014 data available for reporting.

For the latest national data and information, see Canada's Air pollutant emissions indicators.

Volatile organic compounds

Key results

In 2014, Canada:

  • saw a decrease of 24% in volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from 2004 levels
  • ranked second highest in VOC emissions among OECD member countries
  • had the largest ratio of VOC emissions to gross domestic product

Volatile organic compound emissions and emissions intensity of the top 10 emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014

Bar charts showing volatile organic compound emissions in kilotonnes and by emissions intensity. Long description below.
Long description

The two bar charts compare Canada's 2004 and 2014 volatile organic compound emissions in kilotonnes (left chart), and emissions intensity in tonnes per million United States dollars of gross domestic product (right chart) with those of 9 top emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with available data for both reported years, namely the United States, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Spain.

Data for this chart
Volatile organic compound emissions and emissions intensity of the top 10 emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014
Countries 2004 volatile organic compound emissions (kilotonnes) 2014 volatile organic compound emissions (kilotonnes) 2004 volatile organic compound emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product) 2014 volatile organic compound emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product)
United States 14 787 12 917 1.06 0.80
Canada 2823 2157 2.26 1.44
Australia 1247 1216 1.57 1.16
Germany 1366 1041 0.45 0.30
Turkey 930 956 1.01 0.69
Japan 1359 863 0.32 0.19
Italy 1267 849 0.61 0.43
United Kingdom 1211 818 0.56 0.33
France 1275 638 0.58 0.26
Spain 888 614 0.64 0.43
Volatile organic compound emissions and emissions intensity of the other member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014
Countries 2004 volatile organic compound emissions (kilotonnes) 2014 volatile organic compound emissions (kilotonnes) 2004 volatile organic compound emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product) 2014 volatile organic compound emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product)
Poland 586 606 0.96 0.68
Sweden 220 184 0.63 0.44
New Zealand 181 180 1.49 1.20
Portugal 226 170 0.82 0.63
Czech Republic 231 152 0.98 0.52
Netherlands 174 142 0.25 0.19
Norway 268 139 1 0.45
Greece 191 125 0.59 0.47
Belgium 182 122 0.46 0.27
Hungary 176 116 0.84 0.51
Austria 139 110 0.43 0.3
Denmark 152 106 0.67 0.43
Slovak Republic 72 106 0.74 0.73
Finland 150 91 0.78 0.44
Ireland 116 84 0.34 0.20
Switzerland 71 63 0.76 0.45
Slovenia 50 33 1.04 0.61
Estonia 43 33 1.76 1.02
Luxembourg 12 8 0.36 0.17
Iceland 7 5 0.63 0.35
Korea 772 n/a 0.65 n/a
Israel 229 n/a 1.3 n/a
Chile n/a n/a n/a n/a
Latvia n/a n/a n/a n/a
Mexico n/a n/a n/a n/a

Note: n/a = not available.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.17 KB)

Note: Definitions of pollution sources and estimation methods may differ from country to country. Comparisons should be made with caution. Gross domestic product values are in millions of constant United States dollars, constant purchasing power parity, for the base year 2010. The use of purchasing power parity facilitates international comparison of gross domestic product by creating an equivalent purchasing power basis for each country compared.
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2016) OECD.Stat.

More information

Although Canada's VOC emissions declined by 24%, or 667 kilotonnes, between 2004 and 2014, Canada ranked as one of the highest emitters among the member countries of the OECD, behind the United States. The majority of the top 10 emitting member countries experienced declines in emissions between 2004 and 2014, with the exception of Turkey, where emissions increased slightly.

The reductions in emissions intensity range from 25% to 52% between 2004 and 2014 for the top 10 emitting member countries.

Among the 35 OECD member countries, 32 countries had VOC emissions data available for 2004 and 30 countries had 2014 data available for reporting.

For the latest national data and information, see Canada's Air pollutant emissions indicators.

Fine particulate matter

Key results

In 2014, Canada:

  • saw an increase of 17% in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions from 2004 levels
  • ranked second highest in PM2.5 emissions among OECD member countries
  • had the highest ratio of PM2.5 emissions to gross domestic product

Fine particulate matter emissions and emissions intensity of the top 10 emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014Footnote [1]

Bar charts showing fine particulate matter emissions in kilotonnes and by emissions intensity. Long description below.
Long description

The two bar charts compare Canada's 2004 and 2014 fine particulate matter emissions in kilotonnes (left chart), and emissions intensity in tonnes per million United States dollars of gross domestic product (right chart) with those of 9 top emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with available data for both reported years, namely the United States, Turkey, France, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

Data for this chart
Fine particulate matter emissions and emissions intensity of the top 10 emitting member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014
Countries 2004 fine particulate matter emissions (kilotonnes) 2014 fine particulate matter emissions (kilotonnes) 2004 fine particulate matter emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product) 2014 fine particulate matter emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product)
United States 4389 4452 0.31 0.28
Canada 1537 1800 1.23 1.20
Turkey 441 539 0.48 0.39
France 275 169 0.12 0.07
Italy 144 152 0.07 0.08
Poland 160 135 0.26 0.15
United Kingdom 110 105 0.05 0.04
Germany 139 104 0.05 0.03
Spain 99 68 0.07 0.05
Portugal 58 43 0.21 0.16
Fine particulate matter emissions and emissions intensity of the other member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2004 and 2014
Countries 2004 fine particulate matter emissions (kilotonnes) 2014 fine particulate matter emissions (kilotonnes) 2004 fine particulate matter emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product) 2014 fine particulate matter emissions intensity (tonnes per million US dollars of gross domestic product)
Slovak Republic 28 30 0.29 0.21
Belgium 39 28 0.10 0.06
Norway 38 27 0.14 0.09
Hungary 30 26 0.14 0.11
Finland 40 24 0.21 0.12
Czech Republic 36 23 0.15 0.08
Sweden 26 21 0.07 0.05
Denmark 28 18 0.12 0.08
Austria 22 16 0.07 0.05
Ireland 19 15 0.10 0.07
Slovenia 13 12 0.26 0.22
Netherlands 23 12 0.03 0.02
Estonia 15 8 0.58 0.24
Switzerland 10 7 0.03 0.02
Luxemburg 3 2 0.08 0.04
Iceland 1 n/a 0.07 n/a
Australia n/a n/a n/a n/a
Chile n/a n/a n/a n/a
Greece n/a n/a n/a n/a
Israel n/a n/a n/a n/a
Japan n/a n/a n/a n/a
Korea n/a n/a n/a n/a
Latvia n/a n/a n/a n/a
Mexico n/a n/a n/a n/a
New Zealand n/a n/a n/a n/a

Note: n/a = not available.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.42 KB)

Note: Definitions of pollution sources and estimation methods may differ from country to country. Comparisons should be made with caution. Gross domestic product values are in millions of constant United States dollars, constant purchasing power parity, for the base year 2010. The use of purchasing power parity facilitates international comparison of gross domestic product by creating an equivalent purchasing power basis for each country compared.
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2016) OECD.Stat.

More information

Canada and 3 of the top 10 emitting member countries of the OECD, the United States, Turkey and Italy, experienced an increase in PM2.5 emissions in 2014 from 2004 levels. Canada's emissions increased the most, by 263 kilotonnes, making it one of the highest emitters among the member countries, behind the United States.

Despite these increases in emissions, most of the top 10 member countries experienced declines in their emissions intensity, which varied between 3% and 44%, from 2004 to 2014. The exception was Italy, where emissions intensity increased 11%.

It is important to note that Canada and the United States include open sourcesFootnote [2] such as dust from roads, prescribed forest burning and agriculture in their PM2.5 emissions. These sources are not always reported by other OCDE member countries.

Among the 35 member countries of the OECD, 26 countries had PM2.5 emissions data available for 2004 and 25 countries had 2014 data available for reporting.

For the latest national data and information, see Canada's Air pollutant emissions indicators.

About the indicators

What do the indicators measure

The International comparison of air pollutant emissions indicators provide emissions and emissions intensity for member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The emissions of 5 pollutants are reported: sulphur oxides (SOX), nitrogen oxides (NOX), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The indicators focus on the top 10 emitting member countries of the OECD.

Why are these indicators important

Exposure to air pollutants on a daily basis can cause adverse health and environmental effects. Fine particulate matter is a key component of smog along with ground-level ozone (O3) and has been associated with pulmonary and cardiovascular health issues. While causing effects of their own, NOX (such as nitrogen dioxide [NO2]) and VOCs are the main contributors to the formation of O3. Nitrogen oxides, SOX (such as sulphur dioxide [SO2]), and VOCs also lead to the formation of PM2.5 in the air in addition to the PM2.5 that is emitted directly from such sources as road dust and prescribed forest burning. Sulphur oxides and NOX can also lead to the formation of acid deposition that can harm the environment, materials, living organisms, and humans.

Consult the Air pollution: drivers and impacts webpage for more information on the human health, environmental and economic impacts of air pollution.

These indicators help to inform Canadians about how Canada's emissions compare to those of other countries. The indicators report on key air pollutants that contribute to smog and acid rain and help the government to identify priorities, track progress, and develop strategies and policies for reducing or controlling air pollution.

What are the related indicators

Canada's Air pollutant emissions indicators track emissions from anthropogenic sources of 6 key air pollutants: SOX, NOX, VOCs, ammonia (NH3), CO, and PM2.5. Additional indicators on emissions from transportation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, electric utilities and the oil and gas industry are also included to provide detailed analysis on the largest sources of Canada's emissions.

The Air quality indicators track ambient concentrations of PM2.5, O3, SO2, NO2, and VOCs at the national and regional level and at local monitoring-stations.

The International comparison of urban air quality indicators compare concentrations in the air of PM2.5, O3, SO2 and NO2 in selected Canadian urban areas with a population greater than one million to the air quality in selected international urban areas having comparable data.

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