On November 23, Premier Jean Charest and Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Line Beauchamp, unveiled Québec’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by the year 2020. By targeting a 20% reduction below 1990 levels, Québec has set a goal similar to the target established by the European Union thus becoming the leader in the fight against climate change.
The reduction target will show flexibility from one economic activity sector to another in accordance with the reduction potential of each, international competitiveness, available technology and required transition measures.
The Premier acknowledged that achieving this target will require an additional commitment on the part of Quebecers. “It is a very ambitious target for the government, given that 48% of Québec’s total energy currently comes from renewable energy sources. We currently hold the best GHG emissions record in Canada, which is approximately eleven tons per capita, half of the Canadian average. With a -20% target by 2020, Québec will have the smallest level of emissions per capita in North America. The industrial sector has also made enormous strides with an over 7% emissions reduction in 2006, compared to 1990 levels, despite the fact that Québec’s GDP increased 41% over the same period. For Québec, achieving this target is therefore a sound plan for a sustainable future that everyone will be urged to endorse,” declared the Premier.
Québec also has the resources necessary to make the shift towards an economy less dependent on fossil fuels. It has abundant sources of renewable energy, a strong potential for technological innovation and the province is home to a number of international corporations specialized in mass transit manufacturing.
Given that the transportation sector accounts for 40% of Québec’s GHG emissions, the government has already implemented a number of reduction initiatives in this sector. By 2020, additional major investments will be required to improve the availability of mass transit options and encourage increased use of intermodal transportation of goods. The upcoming introduction of a GHG emission standard for light-duty vehicles, equivalent to the California standard, will mean significant vehicle energy performance improvements throughout the province. Québec is also building on the rapid progress of electric vehicle technologies to encourage use of electric vehicles in the province and develop Québec’s expertise in this future sector.
In the opinion of the government, clearly, achieving the goal depends on introducing a greenhouse gas cap and trade system in 2012. Québec therefore took an important step in June 2009, when the National Assembly unanimously passed new draft legislation for climate change. Through this, Québec will contribute to implementing the largest GHG cap and trade system in North America, which it is currently developing with partners of the Western Climate Initiative.
These actions will set the stage for a flourishing green economy by the year 2020 and will gradually reduce Québec’s economic dependence on foreign oil. It will also soften the economic impact of the anticipated oil crisis in the decades to come and improve Québec’s trade balance.
With just a few weeks to go before the December 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Québec is announcing where it stands. “Through this ambitious target, Québec is showing its partners and the international community that it is fully committed to assuming its share of responsibility. By continuing to demonstrate strong leadership, we hope to change the position of the federal government leading up to the Copenhagen Conference,” added Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Line Beauchamp.
Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs
Québec at Copenhagen: moving to a greener economy