Latest environmental indicators

This page lists the indicators released by the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators program. Subscribe to our e-updates to receive the latest indicators in your inbox or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. #CdnEnv #Sustainability #Indicators

January 2023

Wildlife and habitat indicators 

Species at risk population trends

Healthy wildlife populations are an important part of biodiversity. In Canada, some species that have experienced population declines or are naturally rare are now in danger of disappearing. Recovery or management actions are put in place to protect wildlife species that are identified as being at risk and are in danger of disappearing. Ensuring the successful recovery or management of a species at risk can be a long-term process involving various measures to stop or reverse the decline in the species and improve the likelihood that it will persist in the wild. This indicator provides a preliminary assessment of whether the population (how many) and distribution (how they are spread out) trends of species at risk listed under the Species at Risk Act are consistent with their recovery or management objectives. 

Key results

Of the 144 species at risk for which trends could be determined:

  • 62 species (43%) show progress towards their population and distribution objectives
  • 18 species (12%) show mixed evidence, meaning that some information suggests improving trends, but there is also some evidence of decline
  • 64 species (45%) do not show progress towards their population and distribution objectives

General status of wild species

Canada supports a remarkable diversity of life. About 80 000 species are known to exist in Canada, excluding bacteria and viruses. However, wild species face a variety of threats, including the loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat, pollution, overexploitation and fishery bycatch and other incidental loss due to resource harvesting. Conserving wild species promotes biodiversity and maintains ecosystem services that Canadians rely on like pollination, controlling floods, and air and water filtration.

The Wild Species 2020 report considers 50 534 species in 46 species groups, which represent, at the time of reporting, the inclusion of more than half of Canada’s species. 24 483 species were assigned a NatureServe numerical rank (secure, apparently secure, vulnerable, imperiled and critically imperiled) and 135 species were classified as possibly extirpated or presumed extirpated. 21 997 species were unrankable or unranked. 3 919 species were classified as not applicable (either exotic or accidentally occurring), meaning they are not considered to be suitable for conservation activities. The indicator summarizes the general status of species in Canada.

Key results
  • Of the 24 483 native species with a NatureServe numerical rank:
    • 19 600 species (80%) are ranked as secure or apparently secure
    • 4 883 species (20%) are at some risk of extirpation (ranked as vulnerable, imperiled or critically imperiled)
  • 135 species are presumed extirpated or possibly extirpated (no longer found in Canada)

Air indicators

Air quality

Air quality problems such as smog and acid rain result from the release of pollutants into the atmosphere. The majority of these pollutants come from human activities, such as transportation, the burning of fuels for electricity and heating, and industry. Pollutants from natural sources, such as wildfires, can sometimes be substantial. Air pollutants cause adverse health and environmental effects. The Air quality indicators present the concentrations of 5 key air pollutants for Canada.

Key results

Between 2005 and 2019,

  • average PM2.5 concentrations have remained mostly unchanged with slight year-to-year fluctuations and a dip in 2019
  • peak PM2.5 concentrations exhibited variable results, decreasing after 2005 but trending upward over the past decade and decreasing again in 2019
  • average O3 concentrations fluctuated above and below 2005 levels, while peak O3 concentrations have generally decreased
  • average and peak NO2, SO2 and average VOC concentrations have decreased steadily

Climate change indicators 

Greenhouse gas emissions projections

Climate change is caused by the increase in concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) which trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere. These increases are primarily due to GHG emissions from human activities.

Canada's actions to address climate change at home and abroad are guided by the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In 2021, Canada announced an enhanced target committing Canada to cut its GHG emissions by 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. Previously, Canada had committed to reducing its GHG emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

To estimate future GHG emissions, Canada develops GHG projections on an annual basis, using the most up-to-date assumptions of the key drivers that influence Canada's emissions. The indicator uses the latest GHG emissions projections to present the forecast progress toward Canada's 2030 target.

Key results

For the December 2022 projections update, 2 scenarios were developed:

  • Under the "with measures" scenario, emissions in Canada are projected to be 625 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq) in 2030 (or 16% below 2005 levels)
  • Under the "with additional measures" scenario, emissions are projected to decline to 491 Mt CO2 eq in 2030 (or 34% below 2005 levels)
  • 2035 emissions are projected to decline further, reaching 608 Mt CO2 eq (18% below 2005 levels) under the "with measures" scenario and 443 Mt CO2 eq (40% below 2005 levels) under the “with additional measures" scenario

Previous releases

The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators program develops and regularly reports on a wide range of environmental indicators. These indicators are used to keep Canadians informed and up-to-date on the state and trends of environmental issues of concern. The indicators also track and report on the progress of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. Indicators from past releases are listed below.

March 2022

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