May 26, 2022

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Buy here, pollution elsewhere | Press

How many tons of greenhouse gases have been created to satisfy the hunger of Quebec consumers? Thanks to a new indicator, the first data released on Friday by the Quebec Statistics Institute, consumers have a better idea of ​​the carbon footprint they are leaving at home and abroad.

Released at 6:00 p.m.

Judith Lachchabel

Judith Lachchabel
Press

Gas production, Gas consumption

Data for measuring a country’s carbon footprint are largely based on the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted in its territory and the number of people living there. The new annual indicator created by the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ) approaches the problem differently: it measures the amount of GHGs each Quebec household releases in support of its annual consumption of goods and services. Thus, the amount of GHG released to produce the tons of bananas consumed by cubes is taken into account. However, GHGs released by Caspian crab fishermen are excluded and its harvest is shipped overseas. “This is the first time that statistics have been used to establish the macroeconomic data of Canada and the OECD to establish a carbon channel,” explains Sophie Brahine, ISQ’s project manager. Annie Levasseur, professor of École de technologie supérieure and head of research in Canada for measuring the impact of human activity on climate change, is pleased to have developed this index. “When we look only at regional goods, it completely obscures all emissions associated with imports. As citizens, we have more power over this element because we can make consumer choices.”

Consider everything

The household carbon track is made up of two types of GHG emissions: direct and indirect. These are direct emissions generated by the homes themselves using fossil fuels such as car fuel, heating oil, and stove gas. Indirect emissions are the production of goods and services used by households – for example, the transportation of farm machinery, grains and other inputs needed to grow wheat, and the distribution of bread to the grocery store. . Three gases have been studied to measure GHGs: carbon dioxide (CO)2), Methane (CH4) And nitrous oxide (n2O). However, data on methane and nitrous oxide emissions generated outside Canada are not available. Therefore the total carbon footprint is underestimated, the authors of the study warn.

Energy in the mind

Description from ISQ

“The purpose of this type of package is to determine the potential levers that can be implemented,” recalls Annie Levasour. Surprisingly, almost half of the GHG generated by Quebec households’ consumption is linked to the direct intake of fossil fuels by their own vehicles. Half of the emissions in the “transport” category, for their part, are generated by air transport. To reduce the amount of GHGs released in this category, there are 36 solutions: We need to consume less gasoline. “We should try to reduce driving alone by using public transportation, active transportation, carpooling, and shortening distances …”, lists Annie Levasser.

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Food

Food is another important source of GHGs in Quebec consumption. In 2017, the cost of food and beverages (including restaurants) accounted for the largest share of household spending (21%). Moreover, unlike the energy sector, two-thirds of the GHGs released for food consumption in Quebec are issued in Canada or other countries. Buying local food will help reduce the share of GHGs in the industry. But, M reminds me.Me Levasseur, reducing meat consumption, its carbon footprint is higher than that of plants, and has a significant effect. “It was an easy move, but not necessarily very commendable,” he admits. The ISQ states that emissions from raising animals slaughtered abroad are underestimated. “Given the frequent release of methane from the intestinal fermentation of some animals, emissions from the agricultural primary sector may increase.”

The place where the cubes were polluted

Most of the time, Quebecans pollute their homes to satisfy their consumption. When they were polluted abroad, the United States (26%) and China (24%) absorbed their GHG emissions. For the “food and beverage” category, most CO emissions2 Made in countries other than these two giants, especially in Mexico.

GHG emissions, based on location

GHG to be released in Quebec: 62%

GHG to be released elsewhere in Canada: 14%

CO2 Issued Outside Canada: 24%

Tough comparisons

So, 8.7 tons for a Quebec family, is that a lot? The game of comparisons is difficult because the methods vary between the codes measuring the carbon footprint and the household consumption. “But in Quebec, we know that direct emissions are low due to hydropower,” she said.Me Lifter. “On the other hand, when it comes to consumption, we know we do not have to be champions … it’s like that everywhere in North America, we use more resources than any other country. Since this is an annual indicator, I hope it is good to compare it with it over the years.