Canada's CO2 emissions | BCHydro Power Smart for Schools

Canada's CO2 emissions

Analyze various methods of measuring and reporting on CO2 emissions to determine Canada’s global ranking.

Activity Image
20 mins
Thought starter


Students analyze tables that rank 20 countries based on their CO2 emissions, then discuss how the presentation or use of statistics can be misleading.


What you'll need

  • "Where does Canada rank?" slides
  • Digital projector and screen

  1. Begin the activity by opening up the "Where does Canada rank?" slides. Show slide 2 and pose the question: When ranking countries according to their emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which data would be the most valid: a country’s total emissions of CO2, or the per capita emissions of CO2? Invite students to share their initial decisions and thinking with the class.
  2. Show slide 3 and ask your students to suggest what the data reveals. Encourage students to suggest any potential problems that may be related to using per capita emissions to rank countries.
  3. Display slide 4 and ask your students to decide if this data is consistent with the data from slide 3. Encourage students to suggest any potential problems that may be related to using total emissions to rank countries. Ask your students to suggest if the data from this slide causes them to question or confirm their thoughts about the data from slide 3.
  4. Show slide 5 and invite your students to “decode” the data: where does this data come from? Invite your students to share their thinking about the slide, then explain that the data on slide 5 is an aggregate of different numbers. Ask your students if it is valid to rank a country by combining two different pieces of emissions data. Suggest that the data on this slide ignores the details of the data.
  5. Display slide 5 and ask your students if the data supports their initial decision about the most valid form of data for ranking countries according to their CO2 emissions.
  6. Conclude the activity by asking students to suggest how data could be presented or used to bias a reader’s understanding.

Curriculum Fit

Grade 9 Math

Big idea

  • Analyzing the validity, reliability, and representation of data enables us to compare and interpret


  • Statistics in society:
    • Population versus sample, bias, ethics, sampling techniques, misleading stats
    • Analyzing a given set of data (and/or its representation) and identifying potential problems related to bias, use of language, ethics, cost, time and timing, privacy, or cultural sensitivity

Curricular competencies

Reasoning and analyzing
  • Use reasoning and logic to explore, analyze, and apply mathematical ideas
Understanding and solving
  • Develop, demonstrate, and apply mathematical understanding through play, inquiry, and problem solving
Communicating and representing
  • Use mathematical vocabulary and language to contribute to mathematical discussions
  • Explain and justify mathematical ideas and decisions
  • Communicate mathematical thinking in many ways
Connecting and reflecting
  • Reflect on mathematical thinking
  • Connect mathematical concepts to each other and to other areas and personal interests

Teaching Notes

Carbon Neutral Government Program

In 2010, British Columbia became the first government at the provincial, territorial, or state level in North America to take 100% responsibility for the greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution from all 128 of its public-sector organizations by measuring their emissions, reducing them where possible, and purchasing offsets to cover the remainder. Learn more about the B.C. government's program to go carbon neutral here.


CleanBC is a government of B.C. provincial plan for a cleaner, more renewable and sustainable future. Cleaner transportation is a focus, including increasing active transportation networks, making electric cars more affordable and shifting to renewable fuels. By 2040, every new car sold in B.C. will be a zero-emission vehicle. In B.C., the vast majority of electricity comes from water, a renewable energy source. The move to electric cars helps the shift to renewable fuels in transportation. Learn more about how B.C. is exploring clean electricity through BC Hydro's Electrification plan.


Assess your students’ ability to:

  • Correctly and fluently use statistical concepts in their discussions and decisions.
  • Use mathematical thinking support their decisions.

Join the Power Smart for Schools community to access:

  • Email newsletter to keep you up-to-date
  • Special events and contests with great prizes
  • Premium, time-limited education resources
  • Dashboard to organize and save your favourite activities and lessons
Sign up