May 2, 2022

Weekly EconMinute—Alberta’s distinct emissions profile

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about Alberta’s distinct emissions profile.

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In April, Canada submitted its 2022 National Inventory Report of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the United Nations, containing the official accounting of national emissions as of 2020, including a breakdown of emissions by province and sector.

It is well known that Alberta’s emissions profile—the sectoral makeup of the emissions produced—is different than in other provinces. Alberta’s emissions are dominated by the industrial (oil and gas, heavy industry, and electricity) and agricultural sectors, whereas the transportation and buildings sectors are more prominent elsewhere.

Canada’s geographical and geological realities concentrate much of the nation’s oil and gas resources and suitable agricultural land in Alberta. Developing these resources to meet global demand, and the spinoff industries that have traditionally relied on the feedstock they provide, means that emissions tied to the industrial and agricultural sectors will also be concentrated in Alberta.

But what is the scale of these emissions compared to the rest of Canada, and how concentrated are these sectors in Alberta?

  • In 2020, Alberta’s industrial and agricultural emissions (199 megatonnes) made up 78% of the province’s total emissions—the most of any province or territory.
  • Excluding Alberta, only 43% of Canada’s emissions profile belongs to industrial and agricultural sources—35% less than in Alberta.
  • Alberta’s concentration of industrial and agriculture sectors makes it the home of more than half (53%) of these sectors’ emissions in Canada.
  • In fact, Alberta’s industrial and agricultural emissions together are more than any other province’s total emissions.
  • Alberta’s industrial and agricultural emissions consist of oil and gas (67%); electricity (15%); heavy industry (9%); and agriculture (10%).

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