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OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Canada 2017

image of OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Canada 2017

Canada, the world's second largest country by area, has abundant natural resources. Its vast territory includes large tracts of undisturbed wilderness. However, urbanisation and agriculture are putting pressure on the natural asset base. Since 2000, Canada has made progress in decoupling economic growth from air pollution, energy consumption and GHG emissions, but it remains one of the most energy- and emissions-intensive economies in the OECD. Further progress is needed to transition to a green, low-carbon economy.

This is the third Environmental Performance Review of Canada. It evaluates progress towards sustainable development and green growth, with special features on climate change mitigation and urban wastewater management.

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Executive summary

The second largest country in the world by area, Canada endows vast natural resources and a great biological diversity. Natural-resource based activities such as mining, fossil fuel extraction, agricultural forestry and fisheries provide for an important share of national income and exports. Canadians generally enjoy a high level of well-being, although parts of the population, particularly Indigenous peoples, lack equal opportunities and access to essential services. While Canada has decoupled a number of environmental pressures from economic growth, it remains one of the most energy- and resource- intensive economies in the OECD. Canada is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the OECD and emissions show no sign of falling yet. Fossil fuels remain the dominant energy source. The emission of local air pollutants decreased, but outdoor air pollution continues to harm Canadians. Waste is predominantly landfilled and recycling rates are low in most provinces and territories. Pressures on biodiversity and water bodies remain high in certain areas.

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