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

April 2019

Climate indicators

Greenhouse gas emissions

Climate change is one of the most important environmental issues of our time. Climate change is caused by the increase in concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. These increases are primarily due to human activities such as the use of fossil fuels or agriculture. The indicators report estimates of Canada's emissions and removals of greenhouse gases.

Key results
  • Canada's total GHG emissions in 2017 were 716 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq)
  • The decrease in emissions since 2005 was primarily driven by reduced emissions from the electricity generation sector

Greenhouse gas emissions from large facilities

The release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and their increasing concentration in the atmosphere is leading to a changing climate. This change has an impact on the environment, human health and the economy. This indicator tracks GHG emissions and provides consistent information on emissions from the largest emitting facilities in Canada.

Key results
  • In 2017, 292 megatonnes (Mt) of GHGs in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq) were emitted by 1 622 facilities reporting to the GHG Reporting Program
  • Emissions from the reporting facilities account for 41% of Canada's total GHG emissions

Global greenhouse gas emissions

The release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and their increasing concentration in the atmosphere is leading to a changing climate. This change has an impact on the environment, human health and the economy. Greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for periods ranging from a few years to thousands of years. As such, they have a worldwide impact, no matter where they were first emitted. This indicator highlights GHG emissions caused by human activity around the world.

Key results
  • Between 2005 and 2014, global GHG emissions increased by 19.5%, from 38 273 to 45 741 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq.)
  • In 2014, the highest emitting country was China with 11 912 Mt CO2 eq., or 26.0% of global GHG emissions. Since 2005, emissions from China increased by 63.9%
  • Canada's emissions in 2014 reached 745 Mt CO2 eq., which made up 1.6% of global GHG emissions

Wildlife and habitat indicators

Sustainable fish harvest

Harvest limits for wild fish and other marine animals are set to protect these stocks for the future. This indicator reports the proportion of major stocks that are overharvested.

Key results
  • Of the 179 major stocks assessed in 2017:
    • 171 stocks (96%) were harvested at sustainable levels
    • 8 stocks (4%) were harvested above approved levels
  • From 2012 to 2017, the percentage of overharvested stocks has been consistently low

Status of major fish stocks

Environmental conditions and human use of the oceans affect the abundance and health of fish stocks, at national and global levels. In order to maintain fish stocks for future generations, it is important to track their condition and adjust management, such as harvest limits, accordingly. The indicator reports the status of major Canadian fish stocks.

Key results
  • Many of the new stocks added in recent years have an uncertain status, contributing to an increase in the number of uncertain stocks
  • Of the 179 major stocks assessed in 2017:
    • 63 stocks (35%) were in the Healthy zone
    • 25 stocks (14%) were in the Cautious zone
    • 18 stocks (10%) were in the Critical zone
    • 73 stocks (41%) could not be classified and have uncertain status

Management of Canadian aquaculture

Aquaculture operators' compliance with environmental standards helps to protect our aquatic environment. The indicator is the rate of compliance of aquaculture operators under Fisheries Act regulations. It provides a measure of how well aquaculture operators meet environmental protection standards related to the sector as set out in the Fisheries Act regulations.

Key results
  • From 2011 to 2017, over 96% of inspections of aquaculture operations did not result in charges. For 2015 to 2017, 100% of inspections did not result in charges
  • From 2013 to 2017, between 85 and 89% of inspections did not identify any violations, up from 41% in 2011 and 69% in 2012

February 2019

Climate indicators

Sea ice in Canada

Sea ice is a prominent feature in the Northern Canadian Waters. It consists of ice that grows and melts each year (refered to as first-year ice) and ice that remains present all-year round (refered to as multi-year ice). The amount and type of sea ice present, notably the total minimum area it covers in the summer season, impacts human activity and biological habitat.

Key results
  • In 2018, the Northern Canadian Waters were covered by an average sea ice area of 1.23 million square kilometres, which represents 32.8% of its area
  • Over the past 5 decades, the area covered by sea ice in the Northern Canadian Waters, measured during the summer season, has been decreasing
  • Between 1968 and 2018, sea ice area in the Northern Canadian Waters declined at a rate of 7.0% per decade

Wildlife and habitat indicators

Species at risk population trends

Some wildlife species in Canada are at risk of extinction. For many of these species, population objectives are set out in a recovery document. This indicator presents early signs of progress and provides a preliminary assessment of whether recovery efforts are working, recognizing that recovery may take many years.

Key results

Are population trends of species at risk consistent with objectives? Of the 126 species for which population trends could be determined:

  • 52 species (41%) show progress towards their population objectives
  • 59 species (47%) do not show progress
  • 15 species (12%) show mixed evidence, meaning some information suggests improving trends, but there is also some evidence of decline

Change in the status of wildlife species at risk

Wildlife species are essential to the integrity of ecosystems. However, some wildlife species are at risk of disappearing from Canada. Wildlife species that are thought to be at risk are periodically assessed. Changes in status over time may help determine whether conditions for these wildlife species are improving.

Key results

Of the 479 wildlife species that have been reassessed and for which sufficient data are available to determine if there has been a change in status:

  • 81 wildlife species (17%) are now in a higher risk category
  • 86 wildlife species (18%) are now in a lower risk category
  • 312 wildlife species (65%) show no change in status

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.

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