The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) held one-fifth of Canada’s population and GDP in 2015 but produced only about 7% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a first-ever regional inventory produced by The Atmospheric Fund.
The result of the assessment—a total estimated output of 48 megatonnes—showed that “we’re actually doing well compared to the rest of the country” on a per capita basis, writes TAF Director of Policy and Programs Bryan Purcell.
The analysis showed that cities with higher population densities had lower per capita transportation emissions, and attributed the GTHA’s strong GHG performance to the low-carbon electricity sources it can depend on since Ontario phased out the last of its coal-fired power plants in 2014.
But the other breakthrough was the ability to produce a combined inventory, using consistent data sources and methodologies, Purcell explains. “Individual municipalities have reported inventories in the past but they differ[ed] in methodology, data sources, and timing, making it difficult to draw conclusions or prioritize policies.”
Apart from industrial emissions in Hamilton, the inventory pointed to buildings as the GTHA’s biggest source of GHG emissions, at 44%, followed by transportation at 33%. Notably, natural gas accounted for 87% of the emissions from buildings.
“Toronto and Peel Region (Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon) contribute to the lion’s share of emissions within the GTHA, at 31 and 23%,” Purcell writes. On a per capita basis, Hamilton and Peel are above-average emitters,” but “when industrial emissions are excluded, Hamilton has the lowest emissions per capita in the GTHA.”