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B.C.’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions
For updated data on B.C.'s GHG emissions, visit the Climate Action Secretariat website's Provincial Inventory Report page.
While British Columbia is responsible for a small fraction of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, that is no defence for inaction. We must show leadership and do our part to address the serious threat of climate change.
In 2008, B.C. emitted 68.7 million tonnes (MT) of greenhouse gas emissions measured in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), representing approximately 8.9 per cent of Canada's total GHG emissions. Full detail on B.C. greenhouse gas emissions can be found in the British Columbia Provincial Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report 2008.
At the same time, we accounted for 13.2 per cent of Canada's population and 12.5 per cent of the gross domestic product. Our proportionately lower emissions share reflects the province’s early investment in hydroelectric power and the industrial use of other renewable energy sources, such as wood wastes in the forest sector.
Total provincial emissions grew by 23 per cent between 1990 and 2008. That increase was the third largest in Canada, after Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Rapid population growth and expansion of the natural gas industry were the two primary drivers for B.C.’s increased emissions over this period.
Transportation accounts for the largest share of provincial GHG emissions, followed by the oil and gas industry.
These sectors have also been among our fastest growing emission sources, along with electricity supply, agriculture, and landfill waste. However, compared to many other North American jurisdictions, the electricity industry remains a small contributor to B.C.’s total emissions because of our reliance on hydroelectric power generation.
The sectoral breakdown of our emissions differs significantly from the rest of Canada. Transportation’s share is much higher than for the country as a whole (36 versus 27 per cent), while B.C.'s electricity share is much lower (2 per cent versus 17).
On a per capita basis, B.C. is one of the lowest greenhouse gas emitters in North America. Within Canada, we currently rank fourth lowest in our GHG emissions per person.
In 2008, B.C.’s emissions intensity was 14.9 tonnes CO2e per capita, one-third below the national average of 22 tonnes. The predominance of hydroelectricity in the provincial generation mix is the main reason for our relatively low per capita emissions.
Individual British Columbians are directly responsible for about 30 per cent of provincial GHG emissions, amounting to about 5 tonnes per person per year.