North American fossil-fuel power plants account for one-third of the region's greenhouse gas emissions
In the wake of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, the CEC's most recent maps reveal the sources and amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and certain harmful air pollutants released by the fossil-fuel electricity generating sector in North America. Fossil-fuel power plants continue to provide two-thirds of the region's electricity and fully 33 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for North America as a whole, representing six percent of global GHG emissions (2005). The combustion of coal accounts for the bulk of these emissions.
These maps are based on data collected for the CEC's North American Power Plant Air Emissions report, released on 7 December 2011. Building upon an earlier CEC report, this second report compiles and analyzes individual power plant pollution information for more than 3,000 fossil fuel power plants across the continent. The maps and data also show the distribution of power plant sources of emissions for sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, mercury and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10).
Digital data files of these maps are now available in several formats, along with a map image, Google Earth layer and Google Earth tour, free of charge from the North American Environmental Atlas website (www.cec.org/naatlas).
North American Power Plant Air Emissions, 2005
A new Google Earth layer through the North American Environmental Atlas website allows users to zoom into a particular region and access emissions data for a specific fossil-fuel power plant. This unique layer embeds the data within a geographic context, revealing important aspects such as proximity to watersheds, urban centres or unique ecosystems.
Watch a Google Earth Tour
The emissions data for these map layers are from 2005, the latest publicly available information from all three countries. Data were derived from total emissions reported by the facilities to the governments or in company reports, or from estimates drawn from fuel consumption information publicly reported by the facilities to the governments. Additional data sources include:
- Statistical reports on electricity generation and fuel usage
- Corporate annual reports with plant-level generation data
- Greenhouse gas inventories and reporting programs
- Electrical energy regulatory agencies
- Facility-specific emissions databases and inventories.
The facility-level data used in the report can be downloaded in Excel format from www.cec.org/powerplants, and used for customized analysis of the emissions information, such as specific geographic locations. For example, by considering the CO2 emissions contribution of all the plants in each country for which data are available, it emerges that 20 percent of al plants in the United States accounted for roughly 90 percent of the total CO2 emissions. For Mexico and Canada, 35 percent of each country's power plants accounted for 90 percent of the total CO2 emissions.
ABOUT THE ATLAS
The North American Environmental Atlas assembles seamless, accurate, geospatial data, including maps, documentation and interactive map layers. The variety of base and thematic map layers is continuously expanding, providing a foundation to analyze the status of environmental conditions and identify significant trends across North America.
Integrated Google Earth maps
Many of the Atlas map layers can now be viewed from within the new map viewer using standard Google Earth files that can also be downloaded. For example, clicking on one of the 24 ecoregions in the Marine Ecoregions map displays detailed information about the ecoregion, along with a photo and links to more information. Launch
A North American partnership
The Atlas was created through the cooperation of scientists and map makers from Natural Resources Canada, Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, the United States Geological Survey, and other agencies in each country through the work of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
Read the Atlas brochure