The Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Line Beauchamp, gave a positive report on environmental actions undertaken in 2008. The accomplishments demonstrate Québec’s leadership role in sustainable development.
The fight against climate change
At the Poznan Conference in Poland, Minister Beauchamp outlined Québec’s approach to combating climate change and announced Québec’s membership in the International Carbon Action Partnership, thus creating new ties with countries and federated states committed to developing carbon markets. “Québec’s participation in the Poznan Conference was the perfect way to end a highly productive year for improving air quality and fighting climate change. Virtually all the measures of the 2006-2012 Action Plan on climate change are underway. For several years, Québec has held the best GHG emissions record per capita in Canada and it has just recorded an additional emissions decrease – a clear indication that Québec is among the country’s leaders,” said the Minister.
Measures include the implementation of the Québec Public Transit Policy, the Biogas program and the publication of the draft regulation respecting greenhouse gas emissions for light vehicles. This last measure will pave the way for adopting standards in the coming months that are similar to those adopted by California, which are the most stringent in North America.
Protection and development of water resources
Minister Beauchamp introduced a bill in the National Assembly affirming the collective nature of water resources and providing for increased water protection. The bill establishes the State’s role as custodian and manager of this precious resource. Furthermore, a draft regulation requiring the mandatory declaration of water withdrawals was announced, thereby demonstrating Québec’s intention to implement a system of fees in the near future for use of this collective resource. The draft regulation will make it possible to gain more accurate information on the amount of water that is withdrawn throughout Québec, an essential step in achieving sustainable water management.
The government also announced an investment of over 13 million dollars to be used primarily for the creation of the Water Knowledge Bureau (Bureau des connaissances sur l'eau). The Bureau will facilitate data collection, use and dissemination among managers and the public on groundwater resources, aquatic ecosystems and their usage with respect to watersheds. In addition, the amount earmarked for watershed management will double over the next five years. As a result of this 15 million dollar increase, watershed management will be extended to all of southern Québec. The increase will also consolidate financial support for watershed management organizations.
Development of the protected areas and national parks network
In 2008, the Québec government made the largest increase in the overall size of protected areas in its history by protecting more than 36,000 km2 of new territories. “The protected areas network now stretches over more than 117,000 km2 and accounts for 7.07% of our territory.”
Moreover, a new 25 million dollar financial assistance program with a mandate that includes acquiring private land for conversion to protected areas between now and 2013 will start soon. The program is based on a partnership comprised of the Ministère, conservation agencies and owners of natural areas.
The government has invested 55 million dollars in the network of outdoor and nature facilities managed by SEPAQ (Société des établissements de plein air du Québec). The investment clearly reaffirms Québec’s willingness to support the role national parks play with respect to the economy and tourism and will provide for the development and enhancement of 16 national parks, 15 wildlife reserves and 8 tourist centres.
A 26 million dollar budget has been allocated to the Ministère for creating five new national parks in northern areas, including Kuururjuaq, by 2011.
Residual materials management
The government released a highly anticipated report that lays the groundwork for the Regulation respecting extended producer responsibility, which will require manufacturers of electronic products, batteries and fluorescent lights to recuperate and recondition the products at the end of their useful life. The government has also issued a good practices code for using plastic shopping bags. The goal is to reduce the use of plastic bags by 50% by 2012.
Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs