Canadian Manufacturing

Canada ranks high in sustainable development, yet faces policy challenges

Energy industry weighs on country despite strong showing among peers

GUTERSLOH, Germany—The majority of industrialized countries are “a long way” from serving as role models on sustainable development, a Bertelsmann Stiftung report has found, ahead of a United Nations summit later this month.

The summit will track progress on development goals made at the turn of the millennium, including environmental sustainable development goals, and will also set new global benchmarks for combating climate change.

While Canada is positioned relatively well overall, ranking 11th out of 34 OECD nations, the country’s performance varies considerably between different indicators. Canada places in the top five on six of 15 metrics, and sits among the bottom five on six others.

The report’s indicators measure a number of factors, many of which are not environmentally-related, and while Canada outshines its neighbour to the south, which comes in at 29th place, the country faces significant environmental challenges.

“Canada is 32nd for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (with only Australia and Estonia faring worse) and 31st for CO2 emissions from energy production,” the report says.

Unsurprisingly, Canada’s fossil fuel energy production causes causes significant carbon dioxide emissions – 15.3 tons per capita. In contrast, the top five OECD countries emit less than 5 tons of CO2 each, less than half of Canada’s total GHG emissions through energy production.

So while Canada ranks well among its peers overall, like others, the country has clear room for improvement as the UN calibrates its goals for the next 15 years.

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