Greenhouse gas emissions indicators: data sources and methods, chapter 2


2. Description and rationale of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions indicators

2.1 Description

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions indicators report trends in anthropogenic (human-made) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the national level (total emissions, emissions per person and emissions per unit of gross domestic product),Footnote1 at the provincial/territorial level and by economic sector for seven GHGs: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons and nitrogen trifluoride.

Emissions from natural processes (e.g., material decay, plant and animal respiration, volcanic and thermal venting) and removal of emissions from the atmosphere by natural sinks (e.g., forests, oceans), are not captured by these indicators.

2.2 Rationale

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions indicators are used to track the progress of Canada's efforts to lower emissions and reach environmental performance objectives. Use of the GHG indicators in conjunction with economic performance indicators such as the gross domestic product supports national-level decision making on sustainable development.

As an Annex I Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Canada is required to prepare and submit a national inventory of anthropogenic sources and sinks of GHGs on an annual basis.

Since direct measurement of emissions from all sources is not possible, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change requires that countries develop, update, publish and maintain national inventories using internationally approved and comparable emissions and removals estimation methods for the seven GHGs. Canada's inventory is developed in accordance with the recently revised United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Annex I Inventory Reporting Guidelines (PDF; 1.67 MB) which require the use of the 2006 methodological guidance developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change guidelines are based on the best available science and developed through an international process that involves testing of methods through ongoing inventory development, country studies, technical and regional workshops, and national and international experts consultations.

2.3 Recent changes to the indicators

Recalculations are performed annually on Canada's previously reported greenhouse gas emissions estimates to reflect updates to source data and estimation methodology. Chapter 8 of the National Inventory Report provides a summary of the recalculations that occurred due to methodological changes and/or refinements since the previous submission, with a brief description, justification and summary of individual impacts on previously reported emission estimates. This chapter also provides details on specific inventory improvements implemented in 2017 as well as planned improvements.

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