Data reveals worst offenders in North America

North America’s Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has released emissions data from more than 1000 individual fossil-fired plants in Canada, Mexico and the USA. The report, North American Power Plant Air Emissions, finds a small proportion of plants emit a significant proportion of SOx and NOx, mercury and carbon dioxide in North America. “Site by site, coal-fired power plants are the dominant source of harmful air emissions from the electricity sector in North America,” says William Kennedy, executive director of the CEC. Using data from 2002, the report finds that while coal combustion accounts for only 44 % of generation on the continent, it is responsible for 86 % of total sulphur dioxide emissions from the sector and 90 % of NOx. The vast majority of mercury emissions from generation also come from coal combustion, however, the report also reveals large variations in individual plant performance with the biggest sources generally clustered in the Midwestern and southeastern United States, along with some large oil and coal-fired plants in Mexico.

Copies of the report, which is a first step towards a shared emissions inventory for North America, are available online at: