But in the larger scheme of things, the same report found that
the environmental record of Canada as a whole is woefully lacking
compared to that of its peers.
The report, released last month, ranked the individual provinces
alongside Canada and several other "peer" countries
across nine environmental indicators. These indicators were meant
to illustrate a given jurisdiction's environmental performance
on air pollution (nitrogen oxide emissions; sulphur oxides
emissions; VOC emissions; and particulate matter emissions), waste
(waste generation), freshwater management (wastewater treatment and
water withdrawals), and climate change (GHG emissions; low-emitting
electricity production; and energy intensity).
Ontario was the top-performing province, and the only one to
receive a "B" grade. Quebec, British Columbia, and PEI
were ranked "C" performers, while the remaining provinces
received "D" or "D-" grades. The territories
were not ranked given insufficient data on for a number of the
Energy intensity was cited as a problem for the provinces across
the board, with only one (Newfoundland) receiving a grade above a
"D." Another consistent problem for the provinces appears
to be air pollution.
Meanwhile, Canada received an overall "D" grade,
placing it behind the 4 provinces who received "B" or
"C" grades. Amongst its peers, Canada came in at
14th place out of a total of 16 countries. Only the
United States and Australia performed more poorly.
The report chalked Canada's poor performance largely up to
its geographic expanse and spread out population. This results in
higher per capita energy consumption, as more energy is lost in
transmission and transportation of goods than is experienced in
smaller, more densely populated countries. Another factor is its
heavy economic reliance upon resource extraction and
agriculture—primary industries that tend to consume greater
energy per dollar of GDP than other industries. And of course,
Canada's comparatively cold climate plays a role in higher
energy consumption in comparison to most of its peers.
These largely immutable challenges aside, there is clearly ample
room for improvement at both the provincial and federal levels in
each of the broad categories evaluated in the report (air, waste,
water, and climate change).
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