Provincial Inventory frequently asked questions

The Provincial Inventory (PI) reports province-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals and is published every year, covering emissions from 1990 to 2019.

Emissions are broken down by:

  • Internationally defined emissions activity categories, such as fuel combustion activities or industrial processes
  • Economic sector
  • Type of GHG, such as carbon dioxide or methane

The PI covers all emissions included in B.C.’s legislated economy-wide and sectoral emission reduction targets. For information purposes only, the PI lists some emissions that are due to natural causes largely outside of direct human control, such as forest growth and decay, wildfires.

The PI is accompanied by a Methodology Book and a Changes and Exceptions Table.

In 2019, B.C.’s gross GHG emissions as reported in the Provincial Inventory, including net deforestation but excluding emission reductions from forest management offset projects, were 68.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).

This is an increase of 0.2 MtCO2e (+0%) from 2018 and an increase of 3.0 MtCO2e (+5%) from 2007, the baseline year for B.C.’s legislated GHG emissions reduction targets.

When reporting on progress to targets, B.C. includes emission reductions from forest management offset projects, which were 1.4 MtCO2e in 2019, bringing B.C.’s net emissions down to 67.2 MtCO2e. 

This is a net increase of 0.1 MtCO2e (+0%) from 2018 (when 1.4 MtCO2e of forest management offsets were generated) and an increase of 1.5 MtCO2e (+2%) from 2007. The emissions reductions from forest management offsets for 2018 were revised upward, from 1.0 to 1.4 MtCO2e, once additional projects were verified.

In order to meet B.C.’s 2030 GHG target, emissions need to be reduced by 26.3 Mt CO2e from 2007 levels. Net emissions in 2019 were two percent higher than in 2007, which means the province needs to reduce more emissions to meet the target (approximately 1.5 Mt CO2e more – for a total of 27.8 Mt CO2e).

In 2021,  B.C. released the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030. The actions outlined in this updated strategy are expected to close the gap to our 2030 target.

Carbon sequestration due to forest growth is generally not counted towards the Provincial Inventory emissions total, because it is largely outside of direct human control.

However, B.C. conducts or commissions several projects that directly and purposefully sequester additional amounts of carbon in forests, above what would be sequestered naturally.

These actions, while not counted towards the gross inventory total, are counted in the net total used to calculate B.C.’s progress towards its emissions reduction targets, to recognize the positive impact of these forest projects. The Climate Action Secretariat ensures that all such offsets are properly and independently verified as genuine, permanent and conservatively quantified.

However, some of the emissions reductions from forest management offsets cannot be verified in time before the inventory is published, so validated figures from the relevant project plans are temporarily used in their place to calculate net emissions and these are revised to the verified figures in future years.

Activity category line items with the greatest absolute increases in emissions include:

  • Public Electricity and Heat Production: +0.3 MtCO2e (39% increase)
  • Oil and Gas Extraction: +0.2 MtCO2e (3% increase)
  • Domestic Navigation: +0.2 MtCO2e (13% increase)

Activity category line items with the greatest absolute decreases in emissions include:

  • Non-Energy Products from Fuels and Solvent Use: -0.2 MtCO2e (42% decrease)
  • Light-Duty Gasoline Vehicles: -0.2 MtCO2e (5% decrease)

Estimates for most line items are taken from the National Inventory Report 1990-2019: Sources and Sinks in Canada (NIR), which is published annually by Environment and Climate Change Canada and is Canada’s submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The only line items not taken directly from the NIR are Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) emissions, which B.C. receives directly from the Canadian Forest Service. Of these LULUCF emissions, B.C. includes afforestation and deforestation emissions in the inventory total and other land use emissions are included as memo items. LULUCF emissions are included in the NIR, but only at the national level.

According to the most recent National Inventory Report (NIR), released April 12, 2021, B.C.’s gross 2019 GHG emissions were 65.7 MtCO2e, which is 2.9 MtCO2e less than in the Provincial Inventory (PI).

The PI is different from the NIR because it includes afforestation and deforestation emissions in the total, rather than as memo items.

Memo items are emissions data presented for information and transparency purposes but not included in the provincial emissions total.

Consistent with international practice, these emissions categories are not counted towards the provincial total because they are significantly affected by natural causes largely outside of human control (such as wildfires and pests).

Environment and Climate Change Canada does not include these emissions in provincial totals in the National Inventory Report.

The 1990-2019 Provincial Inventory includes updates to all previous years, including the 2007 baseline, due to "back-casting" method changes, a process through which any new or improved methods or data sources are applied to the current year and to all prior years to ensure comparability of data over all the years in an inventory. This usually has a relatively minor effect on past-year emissions.

The 1990-2019 inventory features changes that increased 2007 emissions by 2.3 MtCO2e (+4%) and raised 2018 emissions by 0.6 MtCO2e (+1%).

These changes include revised natural gas flaring and consumption data for oil and gas extraction between 2005 and 2018, and revised decay rates (methane production) for solid waste disposal between 1990 and 2019.

CleanBC modelling is updated every year to reflect the latest Provincial Inventory, including any changes from back-casted improvements. While methodology improvements typically result in relatively minor changes to past emissions data, the emissions reductions projected to be achieved by each policy in CleanBC are likely to change as a result.

Because this year’s inventory increases the 2007 baseline emissions estimate, which therefore raises the emissions target for 2030, it could potentially lower the gap to the 2030 target projected to remain in 2030 after the implementation of Clean BC Phase 1, which is currently projected as 7.2 to 11.2 MtCO2e.

However, other factors updated in the model, such as fuel price forecasts and production forecasts, are expected to increase the projected gap to target by a greater amount.

The Climate Change Accountability Act (CCAA) requires B.C. to report on its GHG emissions and progress to its legislated GHG emissions reduction targets every year.

The CCAA requires B.C. to table an annual report in the Legislature each year that reports on progress on CleanBC initiatives, including spending, program results and anticipated GHG reductions, as well as forecasting emissions for three years into the future.

The Provincial Inventory fulfils the requirement to report on B.C.’s GHG emissions and contributes information to the annual Accountability Report.

From 2007 to 2019, B.C.’s gross emissions excluding net deforestation have increased by 5%.

This is the fourth highest relative increase of all provinces with only Alberta (+10%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (both +8%) with a higher percent increase in emissions.

Other provinces have seen negligible increases or reductions in emissions: Newfoundland and Labrador (+0%), Quebec (-4%), PEI (-10%), Ontario (-18%), NS (-31%), and NB (-37%).

The territories of Yukon and Nunavut both have seen increases (+17%) while NT has seen a reduction (-33%).

Canada decreased its emissions by 2%.

The Methodology Book is released annually along with the Provincial Inventory (PI). It provides a description of the scope of each inventory line item and a summary of the methodologies and data sources used in preparing the inventory. As most of the PI data comes from Canada’s National Inventory Report (NIR), produced by the federal government, the Methodology Book refers to the relevant sections of the NIR for in-depth methodology information.

The Method Changes and Exceptions Table is released annually along with the Provincial Inventory. Sometimes B.C. uses different values from those in the National Inventory Report (NIR) for a particular line item if better B.C.-specific data is available.

The table tracks these differences and any temporary deviations from the usual methodology described in the Methodology Book. The table does not track year-to-year changes to the methodology used to produce the NIR, which are documented in the NIR itself.

Activity categories are the international standard GHG reporting format, defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The activity categories break emissions up by the type of activity that causes them, such as combustion of fuel for light-duty vehicle transport, combustion of fuel for residential building heating or industrial process emissions from cement manufacture.

B.C. reports emissions from Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) under non-standard groupings because some LULUCF emissions are included in B.C.’s inventory total and some are excluded.

Economic sectors, as used in the Provincial Inventory (PI) and Canada’s National Inventory Report, are defined by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

The economic sectors group emissions from one or more activity category by the economic sector or activity actor ultimately responsible for them. For example, an industrial facility might have fuel combustion emissions from building heating and transport fuel combustion emissions from on-site vehicles as well as industrial process emissions. The same emissions are reported in both systems, simply grouped in different ways to show different information about the emissions.

B.C.’s PI has always reported emissions broken down by activity category but began reporting emissions broken down by economic sector in 2020.