Decomposition Analysis

In 2007, the BC Government developed the Climate Action Charter to promote a concerted effort between local and provincial governments for addressing climate change. As part of this effort, municipalities have committed to measuring greenhouse gas emissions in regular intervals, and these number have been compiled into the Community Energy Emissions Inventory (CEEI). This has resulted in a very rich data set that captures emissions for multiple years, by various sectors, and from different communities; however, the question remains – how do we best use this data to inform policy and decision-making toward climate action?

Decomposition analysis provides a potentially powerful means for achieving this objective. This form of analysis can be used to breakdown and examine factors that influence changes in emissions over a given period of time. Through decomposition, we can uncover what is contributing to increases in emissions and driving climate change, as well as understanding where we are making progress in reducing emissions. For example, factors can be isolated such as changes in the types of cars people drive and changes in how much people drive (e.g., average trip length), and these changes can be examined to see whether they have led to either increases or decreases in greenhouse gases. With this information, the appropriate inventions can be made to address the areas where emissions are increasing, whether this be done through policies, land-use planning, financial tools, and/or educational campaigns.

The Meeting the Climate Change Challenge (MC3) project explores this analytical potential by developing decomposition models that can interrogate CEEI data in order to produce insights on priority areas for climate action. Models have been created for transportation, residential, and commercial/industrial sectors, and factors within these sectors are examined for whether they have contributed to increases or decreases in emissions between 2007 and 2012. Unlike other studies that employ decomposition methodology, MC3 takes a unique approach by focusing on smaller scales (i.e., local regions rather than province/state or nation), and by doing so, we aim to develop a method that can aid local governments in moving toward sustainable development pathways.

Click here to download a report detailing preliminary work on exploring the application of decomposition methodology to CEEI data.



Ang, B. W. (2004). Decomposition analysis for policymaking in energy: Which is the preferred method? . Energy Policy, 32(9), 1131-1139.

Ang, B. W., (2012). A simple guide to LMDI decomposition analysis. (Presentation).

Ang, B. W., Liu, F. L., & Chew, E. P. (2003). Perfect decomposition techniques in energy and environmental analysis. Energy Policy, 31(14), 1561-1566.

Ang, B. W., & Zhang, F. Q. (2000). A survey of index decomposition analysis in energy and environmental studies. Energy, 25(12), 1149-1176.

Heinen, S., (2013). Analyzing energy use with decomposition methods. (Presentation). Energy Training Week. International Energy Agency. Paris, France.

Jiang, J. (2015). A factor decomposition analysis of transportation energy consumption and related policy implications. IATSS Research, 38(2), 142-148.

Su, B., & Ang, B. W. (2012). Structural decomposition analysis applied to energy and emissions: some methodological developments. Energy Economics, 34(1), 177-188.

Torrie, R., Stone, & Layzell, D. B. (n.d.) Why did Canada’s GDP and energy use diverge after 1995? (Poster).