6. Energy

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Energy use per person in the NWT is nearly double the Canadian average with fossil fuels providing the majority of energy consumed in the NWT. This high consumption is due to several factors, such as long distances and long, cold winters. Energy use in the NWT, and elsewhere, is a driving force affecting our environment in many ways, These include increasing pressures, such as air pollution, human activities and landscape change. For example, use of fossil fuels (petroleum products) contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which in turn contribute to climate change. 

Traffic in Yellowknife, NWT
Traffic in Yellowknife, NWT

As a response to this, the GNWT Ministerial Energy Coordinating Committee (MECC) released an Energy Priorities Framework in 2008 followed by the Northwest Territories Energy Action Plan in 2013 with a focus on reducing imported fossil fuels, mitigating the environmental impacts of our energy use and reducing the cost of living in the NWT. As a result, the NWT currently leads Canada in the installation of commercial-sized wood pellet boilers and the development of renewable energy sources is on the rise. The following indicators track energy use and greenhouse gas emission levels in the NWT. 

Renewable energy

Energy generated from natural resources that are renewable (naturally replenished) within a human lifetime. Renewable energy sources include water (hydroelectricity), biomass, wind, solar and earth energy (geothermal).

Non-renewable energy

Energy generated from finite resources that will eventually dwindle, becoming too expensive or too environmentally damaging to retrieve. Non-renewable energy sources include fossil fuels such as coal, oil, natural gas, and methane, and nuclear energy fuel such as uranium ore.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs)

Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) are gases in the atmosphere that trap energy from the sun. Naturally occurring GHGs include water vapour, ozone, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Without them, the Earth's temperature would be extremely cold. While these naturally occurring gases make life possible, a serious concern today is the enhanced effect on the climate system of increased levels of some of these gases in the atmosphere, due mainly to human activities 

Gigajoules (GJ)

A gigajoule is a metric for measuring energy use. For example, 1 GJ is equivalent to the amount of energy available from either: 277.8 KWh of electricity, or 26.1 m3 litres of heating oil.