Report uncovers dirty side of Canada

It is the home of the Mountie, the maple leaf and more than 30,000 lakes - but the image of Canada as a nation of idyllic wilderness has been challenged by a new report.

A summary of Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators 2007, published by the Canadian government on Monday, revealed that greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution are steadily increasing.

The report, which covers data up to 2005, also shows that guidelines for protecting marine life are not being met at many water quality monitoring sites across the country.

The full report is set to be published at the end of the year.

In 2005, Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions were estimated to be up 25% from 1990 levels and were 33% higher than the Kyoto Protocol target, although the growth in emissions has slowed since 2003.

The summary report added: “Overall, energy production and consumption contributed about 82% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2005.

“From 1990 to 2005, these emissions rose by 29%, accounting for 90% of the growth in Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions over the 16-year period.”

The publication of the findings coincided with a government announcement that Canada would not be able to meet Kyoto’s emissions reductions target by 2008.

In a speech read by Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised that the government was introducing a number of measures to tackle air pollution, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

He added: “Our Government believes that action is needed now to ensure our quality of life, particularly for those most vulnerable to health threats from the environment – our children and seniors.”

The summary report, produced by Environment Canada, Statistics Canada and Health Canada, showed ground-level ozone – a key component of smog – increased by 12% between 1990 and 2005.

It also said at least 115,000 tonnes of pollutants were directly discharged to Canada’s surface waters in 2005.

The results are being blamed partly on the growing Canadian population and economy.

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie