The Legault government says it is launching an “ambitious” plan to reduce the province’s greenhouse gases within 10 years, but it looks like a half-done duty, according to environmental groups.
“We are going in the wrong direction. Instead of reducing GHGs, we are in the process of increasing them, “Premier François Legault admitted at the outset, saying that Quebec needed a” boost “to contribute to the fight against global warming.
- Listen to the interview of Quebec Solidaire MP Ruba Ghazal with Benoit Dutrizac on QUB radio:
That is why he announced, on Monday, investments of 6.7 billion over the next five years to reduce GHG emissions in Quebec by 37.5% by 2030 compared to 1990.
To achieve this, the Plan for a Green Economy (PEV) relies in particular on the electrification of transport, a sector responsible, on its own, for more than 43% of Québec’s GHG emissions.
The government wants to count on 1.5 million electric vehicles in circulation within 10 years and wants more than half of city and school buses to be electrified.
Also, no new gasoline vehicle can be sold after 2035 and Quebec is committed to adding more than 2,500 electric charging stations in the region.
In addition, the plan presented on Monday aims to halve heating emissions from residential, commercial and institutional buildings by converting them to electricity.
François Legault said the province has a “moral obligation” to tackle pollution, otherwise the premier said he “could not watch [ses] two threads in the eyes ”.
“All the measurements are there, it has never been done before,” he added.
- Hear from Environment Minister Benoît Charette on the new green plan:
Less than half
However, even if he describes the EPI as ambitious, he admits that it only counts 42% of the target.
That is to say that if everything goes as planned, Quebec will not yet have reached half of its goal.
“It’s worrying to have a plan that initially falls short of the target. It’s like going on an expedition to climb a mountain, but with a plan just to go halfway, ”laments Patrick Bonin of Greenpeace.
In the National Assembly, opposition parties have all criticized the government for this aspect of the plan, seeing it as an admission of failure before it even began.
On Monday, François Legault said he was counting on the federal contribution and the arrival of new technologies to make up the shortfall.
Furthermore, the government does not intend to tax consumers and businesses more to encourage them to pollute less or to make greener choices.
“There is no question, in Quebec, of increasing any tax or tax whatsoever,” he said, recalling his electoral commitments.
Yet this is what various environmental groups are calling for, who believe that the Coalition Avenir Québec’s EPI is not binding enough.
“By refusing to do that, the government risks not achieving its objectives,” pleads Marc-André Viau, director of government relations at Equiterre, who believes that this is a powerful lever for changing the habits of consumers.
But Environment Minister Benoit Charette says his government is betting on pragmatism, preferring to avoid “punitive measures”.
The EPI will be submitted to a committee of independent experts and to the Commissioner for Sustainable Development for monitoring. It will be updated every year.
However, Patrick Bonin of Greenpeace stresses that there is no guarantee that the measures presented will be respected. There is no law forcing the government to follow them.
“The greatest constraint is social pressure,” said Mr. Legault, recalling that nearly half a million people demonstrated in the streets of Montreal last year to decry inaction governments facing the climate emergency.
- $ 1.3 billion for the Roulez vert program, encouraging the purchase of electric cars and electric charging stations
- $ 768 million for the industrial sector, in support of GHG emissions reduction projects
- $ 550 million to reduce GHG emissions related to the heating of residential, commercial and institutional buildings by 50%
- $ 19.2 million to support Indigenous communities in the climate transition