A few days ago we shared the most recent data from Environment Canada on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. We showed that Canada has committed to reducing GHGs to 30 percent below 2005 levels (748 million tonnes) by 2030.
We also noted that Saskatchewan has the worst per capita emissions in the country.
Of the feedback received in response, two arguments are of particular note;
- 'Since Saskatchewan started with higher emissions - any comparison should consider trends in both total emissions and per capita emissions'.
- 'Saskatchewan and Alberta are dealing with higher value-added products (i.e. commodities: gas, potash, grains, crude oil & coal) hence absolute emissions are not as relevant as emissions relative to total value added'.
Let's look at each in turn;
Environment Canada has just released all of its IPCC GHG submission data in Excel format which, if you are a data nerd, is awesome.
The basics: Canada's 2014 emissions by province;
Nice. But that says little other than Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan are Canada's top-four emitting provinces; together accounting for 82 percent of the total.
But that's a static picture. What about trends in total emissions, population growth, economic output etc.
Per Capita Emissions by Province
To take account of the number of people living in each province one has to divide emissions by the provincial population;
From this it is apparent that Saskatchewan has the highest per capita emissions in the Canada: just over 67 tonnes per person. If Saskatchewan was a country, it would be the third highest emitter in the World.
In response one might say - 'Not so good now but Saskatchewan is at least improving'. But is it?
To find out one needs to look at trends in the last few years;
Emissions by Province: 1990 to 2014
It shows that Saskatchewan's 2014 emissions are 167 percent of those in 2014. In addition, and since 1990, Saskatchewan saw a greater increase in GHGs than any other province. In other words: our total emissions are far from reducing - they are increasing faster than those of any other province.
However Canada's population has grown substantially since 1990: from 27.7 to 35.9 million - an increase of 30 percent. On that basis alone it would seem reasonable to expect a substantial rise in GHGs. Perhaps the population of Saskatchewan increased more than any other province?? To test this one needs to look at trends in per capita emissions..
Per Capita Emissions by Province: 1990 to 2014
However, even after accounting for population growth, Saskatchewan once again comes out bottom of the class with the highest provincial increase (50 percent) in per capita GHG emissions since 1990;
Over the period all but two provinces (Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador) achieved a reduction in per capita emissions. Ontario managed the most impressive reduction with 2014 per capita GHGs at only 70 percent their 1990 level.
Emissions and GDP. 1990 to 2014
Perhaps the increase is due to Saskatchewan adding more economic value, relative to those emissions, than other provinces??
One can check this by dividing total GHG emissions by provincial economic output (measured by GDP);
This shows that, even after consideration of economic output, Saskatchewan is once again the worst province in Canada.
Specifically: for every $1 of GDP, our province emitted 1.23 kilograms of GHGs. FYI - this amount is similar to that released by leaving an 80 watt light bulb on for one day.
Not only is Saskatchewan's the least efficient level in Canada - it is five times worse than Ontario and Quebec - both of which emitted 0.25 kilograms of GHGs for every $1 of GDP. Saskatchewan is also the only province which, from 1990 to 2014, increased it's total emissions per $ of GDP: they rose from 1.19 to 1.23 kilograms.
Which all goes to say...
... that whether you are considering total emissions, emissions per person, emissions per unit of economic output or trends in any of these three; Saskatchewan is far and away the worst performer in Canada.
Sad - but it does at least leave plenty of room for improvement.