This indicator corresponds to the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators Greenhouse gas emissions.


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Headline data

Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Geographical Area: Canada, provinces and territories

Unit of Measurement: Megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq)

Footnote: The 2030 target correspond to the target for Canada, National Inventory Total only

The table below contains more information regarding the indicator.

Indicator name

Greenhouse gas emissions


By 2030, reduce Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45%, relative to 2005 emission levels. By 2050, achieve economy-wide net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Indicator description

This indicator measures greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are the atmospheric gases responsible for causing global warming and climate change. The major GHGs are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20). (definition from United Nations Climate Change)

Geographical coverage

Canada, provinces and territories

Unit of measurement

Megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq)


In general, GHG emissions are estimated by multiplying activity data by the associated emission factor.
Emissions = activity data × emission factor

Activity data refer to the quantitative amount of human activity resulting in emissions during a given time period. The annual activity data for fuel combustion sources, for example, are the total amounts of fuel burned over a year.

Emission factors are based on samples of measurement data, and are representative rates of emissions for a given activity level under a given set of operating conditions. It is the estimated average emission rate of a given pollutant for a given source, relative to units of activity.

Guidelines produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for countries reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change provide various methods for calculating GHG emissions from a given human activity. The methods for estimating emissions are divided into 'tiers,' each encompassing different levels of activity and technological detail. The same general structure is used for all tiers, while the level of detail at which the calculations are carried out can vary.

Greenhouse gas emissions are reported in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2 eq), determined by multiplying the amount of emissions of a particular greenhouse gas by the global warming potential of that gas. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)

Comments and limitations

The Greenhouse gas emissions indicators are comprehensive but some emission sources have not been included in the indicators because they are not reported in the National Inventory Report. Owing to their relatively small contributions to the total emissions, these excluded sources do not significantly affect the overall completeness of the inventory. A detailed explanation of the excluded emission sources can be found in Annex 5 of the National Inventory Report. Although reported in the National Inventory Report, emissions and removals from the land use, land use change and forestry sector are excluded from national totals and subsequently not reported as part of the Greenhouse gas emissions indicators. (ECCC)

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