Population growth, energy use, and environmental impact: Comparing the Canadian and Swedish records on CO2 emissions

Don Kerr


There are many similarities between Canada and Sweden, as both are relatively affluent northern nations with diverse modern economies. Both have witnessed demographic growth and climbing affluence, with predominantly export-oriented economies. Yet in terms of their respective records on greenhouse gas emissions, there is a stark contrast between the two. Sweden is often considered a world leader in reducing emissions, whereas Canada has been widely criticized for its failure to meet international commitments. The current paper attempts to delineate some of the factors responsible for the observed differences between the two countries. It examines trends in environmental impact (CO2 levels) by applying a modified and updated version of Ehrlich’s IPAT equation. The crux of the matter in comparing the two countries is Canada’s substantial population growth and heavy demand for energy (29th among 30 countries in the OECD on our measure of energy intensity) whereas Sweden has managed to move away from fossil fuels in driving its economic activity.


population; environment; energy; CO2 emissions; greenhouse gases

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25336/P6W905


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