August 2015    Print this article

Calculation of greenhouse gases emitted during geoscience knowledge acquisition work conducted by the MERN

Sustainable Development Committee, Direction Générale de Géologie Québec


The Direction Générale de Géologie Québec (DGGQ) has created a tool for calculating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its summer geoscience work programs. Inspired by a calculator developed by the Fonds d’Action Québécois, this tool examines the three main types of GHG — carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) — and presents the results in terms of CO2 equivalency.

The calculation converts data given in different units of measurement (km, litre, flight hours, etc.) into a single GHG emission format using emission coefficients. The latter come from the Québec GHG Inventory created by the Ministère de l’Environnement du Québec (Houle et al., 2000)1 and the Greenhouse Gas Conversion Factor Repository created by the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (2014).2

To generate the best possible estimate, the committee selected a method that considers the three main GHG emissions (CO2, CH4 and N2O). By convention and with the aim of producing consistent results, the committee used the Global Warming Potential (GWP) to express the CH4 and N2O values in CO2 equivalency for a given period of time (Houle et al., 2000).1

In practical terms, the GHG worksheet is divided into four parts: aerial transportation, terrestrial transportation, maritime transportation and fuel.

This computation method was used to calculate the GHG emissions from field work conducted in 2014–2015, and to track the progress of emissions from data acquisition projects since 2012. The 2014–2015 year showed an overall drop of 34.6% in GHG emissions compared to the years 2012–2013 and 2013–2014. This reduction is partly due to a reduction in field work, but also reflects concrete changes in field practices, such as recycling, biodegradable soaps, less paper copies, rechargeable batteries, etc.

The committee continues to analyze all of the DGGQ’s activities to make new recommendations that would incorporate the principles of sustainable development into the entire process of data acquisition and the distribution of geoscientific information.

1. Houle, G., Chlem, C. and Bougie, R., 2000. Inventaire québécois des gaz à effet de serre 1990-2000. Ministère de l'Environnement du Gouvernement du Québec.
2. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, UK Government, 2014. Measuring and reporting environmental impacts: Guidance for businesses. Modified date: 2014-12-11. Online:



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