Analysis | Climate Change: Where is Quebec's Ambition?

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Analysis | Changes climate change: where is Quebec’s ambition?

François Legault notably mentioned the idea again to build more dams.

Leveraging our technological knowledge to further develop the wind power industry or pursue the expansion of a battery sector for electric vehicles goes without saying. However, our climate ambition can only be based on technologies and the development of renewable energies or the green economy.

We must be ambitious, without being dogmatic, said Prime Minister François Legault in his opening speech about the fight against climate change. This statement is heavy with meaning. Is the Prime Minister suggesting that the most pressing calls to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stem from an almost religious or obsessive commitment, which ignores the other priorities of life?

Hope not. Since the current climate crisis, which will have major repercussions in the daily lives of our children and grandchildren, is a profoundly economic, urgent and demanding issue. This is the fight of our generation. Our competitiveness and our prosperity depend on it.

We must not be dogmatic in our ambitions, but we must be consistent, and we cannot diminish the efforts that need to be made by simply saying that we are the best. The Legault government must prepare the economy for the coming decades, for the next generations, and it must be aware of the climate emergency and be convinced that bold actions must be taken.

These bold gestures are economic gestures, they are also gestures that create wealth. And the pride of which François Legault spoke about the relatively low level of GHG emissions in Quebec must also be embodied in the ability of our nation to achieve its targets. Quebec has never met its climate goals; those for 2020 have been scrutinized and those for 2030 will not be reached if the emissions curve does not bend.

The reality is that everything has to be done. From 1990 to 2019, according to the latest inventory published last December, Quebec's GHG emissions decreased by only 2.7%. However, Quebec has set itself a reduction target of 20% in 2020, a target not achieved, and 37.5% in 2030, a target that will be difficult to meet, seen from here.

Meanwhile, emissions in Ontario have fallen by 9.3%, a much larger reduction than in Quebec. That said, Ontario emits more GHGs than Quebec, the Canadian average is higher, and that of the United States too.

In 2019, Quebec's emissions amounted to 9.9 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per capita, compared to 11.2 tonnes in Ontario and 19.4 tonnes on average in Canada.

These data make François Legault say that we are better than our neighbors, despite a weak reduction in emissions over the last decades.

If Quebec can congratulate itself on having a lower level of GHG emissions than its neighbors, it is because political leaders have made courageous, bold and strong decisions in the history of Quebec.

From the creation of Hydro-Québec by Adélard Godbout, through the massive electrification of the countryside by Maurice Duplessis and especially the nationalization of hydroelectricity by Jean Lesage and René Lévesque, Quebec has made choices, historically, that we are proud of. These choices have been good for the economy and the environment.

As Premier, François Legault holds the keys to Quebec's future history in his hands. It is he who can inspire the change necessary to make Quebec a champion of the green economy AND of the reduction of GHG emissions.

A 180 degree turn must therefore s 'operate to reduce the adverse economic consequences of climate change, also to avoid the additional costs of a growing backlog in terms of reducing emissions.

This shift is first and foremost the one to be made in transport. Quebec invests more money in its road network than in public transport. The 2022-2032 Quebec Infrastructure Plan provides $14.7 billion for public transit, but $30.7 billion for the road network.

However, the transportation sector accounts for 43.3% of Quebec's GHG emissions, emissions that have increased by 35% from 1990 to 2019, or 60% for road transportation alone. The largest increases in emissions are 155% for light trucks and 203% for heavy-duty diesel vehicles.

The government must also take action in the industrial sector . The sector's GHGs represent 29.4% of all emissions in Quebec. They are down 11% since 2019, mainly due to the decline of the pulp and paper sector. Excluding this sector of activity, emissions rose by 8%.

As he begins his second term, Quebec Premier François Legault has decided to go back to the one of its priorities is the fight against climate change. Knowing that this crisis is the main long-term economic threat, it was time for the government to place this issue at the heart of its actions.

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