Greenhouse Gas Emissions

What are greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the gases that are released into the atmosphere as a result of certain activities.  GHGs are accumulating in the atmosphere like a blanket, trapping heat and raising global temperatures.  

GHG emissions come from activities like driving, heating buildings, powering industry, farming and managing waste.  

How much GHG emissions is PEI producing?

PEI's GHG emissions were 1,823 kilotonnes CO2e (1.823 Mt CO2e) in 2017.  PEI's emissions were similar to the year before even though the economy and population grew.  GHG levels in PEI have been steady or slightly rising since 2013. 

What are our sources of greenhouse gas emissions?

According to the most recent National Inventory Report released by Environment and Climate Change Canada, our GHG emissions come from three main economic sectors: 

Transportation (47%): This is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Prince Edward Island.  Islanders continue to use more gasoline and diesel each year. Most of our transportation emissions come from cars and trucks. Off-road vehicles, like tractors, boats, ATVs, and snowmobiles, also contribute.

Agriculture (23%):  Livestock, manure and fertilizer use generate GHG emissions. Livestock produce methane gas and so does their manure. Nitrous oxides are given off when we use synthetic or natural fertilizers, and add manure to croplands and pastures.

Buildings (20%): Island homes, businesses, and industries burn fossil fuels like light fuel oil (furnace oil), heavy fuel oil (bunker C), diesel, and propane to produce heat or electricity. Heavy fuel oil generates the most GHGs (3 kg for every litre of oil burned), while propane generates the least (1.5 kg for every litre of propane burned).

The remaining emissions come from the waste (4%) and industry (7%) sectors.  

Does PEI have a GHG emissions reduction target?

The Climate Change Action Plan set a goal of reducing GHG emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 (1.4 Mt CO2e). This target was consistent with global efforts to limit global warming to 2°C.  

Several months after the adoption of this target, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended that global efforts should focus on limiting warming to 1.5°C rather than 2 °C and that urgent action is needed within the next 11 years. Allowing global temperature to increase more than 1.5°C will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat, and poverty for hundreds of millions of people around the world.

In response, the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island adopted a new, more ambitious GHG reduction target of 1.2 Mt CO2e by 2030, which is a 40% reduction below 2005 levels.

Right now, Prince Edward Island’s GHG emissions are 10% below 2005 levels, or 25% of the way towards the newly adopted target.  Current efforts are expected to lower emissions by 0.18 Mt CO2 e (or 180 kilotonnes) by 2030. Efforts to reduce emissions by an additional 0.32 Mt CO2e (or 320 kilotonnes) will be needed to meet the new target.

Meeting this target will not be easy, but it is possible if we all work together. A Special Legislative Committee was created to find ways to meet this new target. 

What is PEI doing to lower GHG emissions?

The Government of PEI has identified a number of actions in A Climate Change Action Plan for Prince Edward Island that will reduce emissions.  These actions include: 

  • making buildings more efficient (visit efficiencyPEI for information about programs)
  • switching how we heat our homes (visit efficiencyPEI for information about programs)
  • planning more efficient communities
  • developing a sustainable transportation system
  • supporting the transition to electric vehicles (learn more about electric vehicles)
  • implementing carbon pricing (visit Carbon Levy for more information)
  • reducing the Government of PEI's GHG emissions 
  • reforesting areas (learn more about the Carbon Capture Tree Planting Program)
  • expanding opportunities within current programs, like the Alternative Land Use Services Program and the Forest Enhancement Program, for carbon sequestration (carbon sequestration is when trees and natural environments absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere), and 
  • working with farmers to develop practices for reducing emissions and storing carbon.  

What can I do to lower my GHG emissions?

Visit the Take Charge - Action for Climate Change website.  There are a number of ways you can help make a difference. 

Who can I contact for more information?

Erin Taylor (Manager, Climate Change Secretariat)
Jones Building, 4th Floor
11 Kent Street
Charlottetown, PEI  C1A 7N8
Telephone: (902) 368-6111
Fax: (902) 368-5830

Published date: 
November 6, 2019
Environment, Water and Climate Change

General Inquiries

Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change
4th Floor, Jones Building
11 Kent Street
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-5044
Toll-free: 1-866-368-5044
Fax: 902-368-5830
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