PEI

P.E.I. households lead country in greenhouse gas emissions

P.E.I. households had the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the country in 2016, according to a report out this week from Statistics Canada.

8 years of data show a mixed picture

Greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles on P.E.I. appear to be rising. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

P.E.I. households had the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the country in 2016, according to a report out this week from Statistics Canada.

Emissions from P.E.I. households, as opposed to from industry, came in at 6.6 tonnes per person. No other province produced more than 6 tonnes per capita.

This is Statistics Canada's first report on household greenhouse gas emissions that includes provincial breakdowns, and it contains annual data going back to 2009. The historical information shows a complicated picture for the Island, and not all of it is bad news.

For example, while the province's households had the highest emissions per capita, total households showed the biggest drop since 2009. P.E.I. was one of only two provinces where household emissions fell.

But household emissions are particularly important for P.E.I., because they make up the largest proportion of total emissions of any province in the country, roughly the same amount as Island industry. Nationally households make up just 19 per cent of emissions.

With industry emissions rising, the household share of emissions is falling.

Statistics Canada broke down emissions into two categories: Motor fuels, and electricity and other fuels. Roughly speaking, the breakdown is between emissions from homes and emissions from vehicles.

Islanders have done well when it comes to their homes, with emissions down about 20 per cent, but emissions from vehicles are up close to eight per cent.

Statistics Canada says the fuels available in the region are a big determinant of household emissions. Those emissions are generally high in Atlantic Canada, the agency says, because of a lack of availability of natural gas.

"It's because the majority of Islanders heat their home with oil," said P.E.I.'s Environment Minister Richard Brown, when asked about the new statistic. "And oil is very polluting and it causes a lot of greenhouse gases. That's one of the reasons we've instituted a heat pump subsidization program."

In December Efficiency PEI said it had provided more than 3,000 heat pump rebates to Islanders since Apr. 1, 2018.

'Entrenching the status quo'

But Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker pointed to another government incentive: using carbon tax revenues to provide free drivers' licences and reduce fees for vehicle registrations.

"What government is doing is entrenching the status quo," Bevan-Baker said, talking about P.E.I.'s level of fuel consumption.

"We need to do something to move people away from vehicular use," Bevan-Baker said, calling on government to provide incentives to expand public transit, encourage ride-sharing and get people to purchase electric and hybrid vehicles.

Brown said his government is developing a transportation strategy which could include incentives for Islanders to choose vehicles with lower emissions.

According to Statistics Canada, P.E.I. had a good run from 2011 to 2015 with regards to its total emissions, with emissions falling every year, but that string ended in 2016 with an increase.

More P.E.I. news

Clarifications

  • This headline has been amended to make it clear it is household emissions per capita that are highest.
    Jan 25, 2019 10:55 AM AT

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