Saturday, September 27, 2008 | Categories: Episodes
To hear the program with the quiz, please click HERE
1) Canada's annual output of greenhouse gases - expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents - is around 720 million tonnes. What percentage of the world's output is that?
Despite the fact that Canada has only 0.5 percent of the world's population, our emissions are four times the world's average per capita - among the highest in the world. This is partly because of our resource-based economy, our cold climate, and our large territory, all of which tend to increase our use of fossil fuels. However other countries, particularly in Scandinavia, have similar conditions and lower emissions. What's perhaps most alarming is how fast our emissions have grown.
2) The Kyoto Accord mandated a reduction in Canada's greenhouse gas output to 6% below 1990 levels during 2008-2012. Where are they now?
Not only are we some of most profligate users of fossil fuels, we've done very little to control the growth of our use of fossil fuels and the emissions associated with them. As a result we're 30% higher than our Kyoto protocol mandated emissions target, and again among the worst in the world in terms of progress in cutting emissions, along with Australia, the US, Spain and Portugal. Countries like the UK and Germany have done far better, and are quite close to their targets.
4) What is the largest single source of emissions?
Heavy industry, particularly oil and gas production and power generation, but also including chemicals, cement and mining and smelting is responsible for 53% of Canada's emissions. Transportation is a major contributor at 25% and heating and cooling buildings represents about 16%.
5) What proportion of our greenhouse gas emissions is due to agriculture?
Agriculture is a major greenhouse gas emitter, but most of those gases aren't carbon dioxide. In fact they're methane (from animals - belching and flatulence) and nitrogen oxides from fertilizer. Carbon losses from cultivated land are also a contributor.
6) Electricity production accounts for about 16% of Canada's greenhouse gases emissions. What proportion of Canada's electricity comes from fossil fuels?
One partial good news scenario for Canada is that our electrical production is dominated by non-fossil fuel sources. Hydroelectric power represents 58% of our electrical production, and nuclear power provides about 17%. Coal, particularly in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but also in Ontario and the Maritimes, is the major greenhouse gas emitter. Renewables like solar and wind represent a tiny portion of our electrical generating capacity - only 0.6%
7) What is the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions from industrial plants to emissions from homes?
Industry, particularly oil and gas production, are by far Canada's largest and fastest growing source of emissions and energy consumption. One of the fastest growing sources is emissions from the western oil sands which have grown signficantly in the last decade.
8) What portion of the nation's emissions are due to your homes, including the electricity you use in your appliances and lighting, space heating, and water heating?
Domestic consumption and emissions represent a relatively small portion of our national emissions, and have grown at a far slower rate than industry, partly due to advances in heating, insulation and appliance efficiency.
9) Your household accounts for a portion of your personal greenhouse gas emissions. The other big one is transportation, including cars and airline travel. What do you think the breakdown is?
Transportation, particularly cars and trucks, but also airplane traffic, represents just a bit more than half of our personal emissions. This has also grown in the last decade as more people drive more kilometers every year. Interestingly emissions from passenger cars haven't grown much at all, thanks to increasing vehicle efficiency. The increases in emissions can largely be attributed to the growing number of light trucks and SUVs on the roads. So while vehicles have become more efficient, they've also gotten larger, offsetting the emissions benefits that increased efficiency might have supplied.