News

CEC Report Details Greenhouse Gas Emissions from North American Power Plants

7 December 2011: A report by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) on the air emissions of electric power plants in North America finds that its 3,144 fossil fuel-burning plants generate the majority of several key pollutants and emit more greenhouse gases (GHG) than any other industrial sector.

The report, North American Power Plant Emissions, released on 7 December 2011, uses 2005 data to profile the electric power industry in Canada, Mexico and the US, and details, on a plant-by-plant basis, emissions of carbon dioxide, mercury, methane, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. It is an update and expansion of a report published in 2004 that used 2002 data, covered only one-third of the sector, and focused only on carbon dioxide and mercury emissions.

The report finds that North America's fossil fuel-burning plants emit 33% of North America's GHG emissions, and 6% of global GHG emissions. Coal-fired plants in Canada and the US, and oil-fired plants in Mexico, produced the bulk of the sector's GHG emissions, primarily carbon dioxide, although natural gas-fired plants in Canada and Mexico also were major sources of methane and nitrous oxide.

The report also finds that: fossil-fuel power plants account for 71% of industrial emissions of sulfur dioxide in North America; and most mercury emissions in the sector (98% in Canada and the US, 88% in Mexico) came from coal-fired plants.

A geospatial version of the CEC report can be downloaded and viewed through Google Earth. [CEC Press Release] [Publication: North American Power Plant Air Emissions]