Citizens of Quebec will vote on October 1 in a provincial election, with the leading parties, the Liberals (led by Philippe Couillard) and the Coalition Avenir Quebec (led by Francois Legault) so far emphasizing their economic plans. It is the new, urban-based Québec Solidaire party which has raised the profile of the issue of climate change, with its proposal to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2030 – as reported in “Quebec election promise to ban new gas cars and go electric draws praise and skepticism” in the National Observer (Aug. 28) . The article reports that, the 2030 ban of new gasoline-powered vehicles would be followed by a ban on the sale of new hybrid vehicles in 2040, with the goal of eliminating all gas and hybrid vehicles from Quebec roads by 2050. Quebec’s existing zero-emission vehicle law and regulations – considered trendsetting when passed in 2016 and 2017 – require 10 per cent of new vehicle sales to be low- or zero-emission by 2025.
The full program, Plan d’investissement en transport collectif (available in French only) was released on August 28, and further proposes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 48 per cent in 2030 and 95 per cent in 2050, compared to 1990 levels. As well as the ban of conventional cars, the party proposes increased spending on public transport infrastructure, and reduction of public transit costs by half. In launching the Plan, Québec solidaire co-leader Manon Massé said that it would make Quebec a world leader in the fight against climate change, and would be the most important social change in the province since the Quiet Revolution. She also forecast that the Plan would create 300,000 green jobs by 2030.
So far there has been little fanfare for climate change issues from the mainstream parties – a CBC special feature summarizes all four provincial party platforms on all issues, including the environment. The right-leaning Coalition Avenir Québec party did hit the headlines on August 16 in advance of the campaign start when it proposed the cancellation of the Apuiat wind project, a $600-million wind energy investment on traditional Innu territory. Reaction focused less on the attack on renewable energy than on what it reflected about the party’s attitude to Indigenous rights, as well as the comparison to the recent cancellation by Doug Ford of the White Pines wind project in Ontario.
The Quebec Federation of Labour released its own statement on election issues ; its statement on a green economy, including Just Transition, is available in French only, as Il faut adopter un plan québécois de transition juste vers une économie verte et « sans pétrole » .
For English-language coverage, see the National Observer ongoing special feature at Quebec 2018 , or the Montreal Gazette, a Postmedia company, which also maintains a special section of election coverage.
On April 17, Quebec’s Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard announced the government’s Vision 2030, a 12-year strategy to increase sustainable mobility. The official government information is available only in French, here . Information in the English language is available from the Liberal Party of Quebec press release , and a Montreal Gazette report. The government will invest $9.7 billion ($2.9 billion of which is new funding) to provide Quebecers with a 20% reduction in average commuting time, 20% reduction in commuting costs, and access to at least four types of sustainable mobility by 2030 for 70 % of the population. Investments will be made in a light-rail electric train line for Montreal and an extension of the métro’s Blue Line; as well as transit services to Montreal’s suburbs. (The government had already called for tenders for 300 additional hybrid buses for Montreal in January 2018). Future projects also include a tramway system for Quebec City, and transit alternatives for the regions, outside the two main cities. As environmental benefits, the province aims to achieve a 40% reduction in the amount of fuel consumed for transportation, with a 37.5% reduction in transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels.
Although the majority of the plan addresses personal transportation, it also sets a goal to increase the goods shipped at ports and intermodal rail terminals by 25%, and promises an increase in the province’s annual sales of transportation equipment from $10 billion to $15 billion.
Premier Couillard is calling the initiative “the James Bay of our era” – referring to the transformative hydro development of the 1970’s.
On December 27, Quebec enacted a new Zero Emissions Vehicle Standard in the form of Final Regulations to Bill 104, An Act to increase the number of zero-emission motor vehicles in Quebec, (which passed in October 2016). The new Standard comes into effect January 11, 2018, and is meant to increase the supply so that 10% of new-vehicle sales or rentals in the province will consist of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) or low-emission vehicles (LEV) by 2025. Earlier in December, the government had announced a committee to monitor implementation of the regulations, with representatives from the Corporation des concessionnaires automobile du Québec (CCAQ), the provincial Department of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change (MDDELCC) and the Coalition zéro émission Québec (CZÉQ), as well as environmental group Équiterre. Équiterre’s reaction to the new Standard is favourable ; the Global Automakers of Canada press release states it “needs more work”, reflecting the industry opposition reported in the Montreal Gazette when the regulations were first unveiled in July 2017. Full details and documentation are available from the Quebec government website in English and in French .
On October 17, Transition énergétique Québec (TEQ) announced the launch of a public consultation process, to begin Nov. 6 and continue until Dec. 3, 2017, regarding the province’s proposed Master Plan for Energy Transition for the next five years. In addition to compiling public input, TEQ will host thematic workshops focused on residential building, commercial and institutional building, passenger and freight transportation, industry, innovation, bioenergy and land-use planning. The Consultation website is available in French only; the TEQ English website has not yet been updated with any information about the consultation process.
Transition énergétique Québec (TEQ) is a public corporation created in April 2017 as part of Québec’s 2030 Energy Policy , to support and promote energy transition and coordinate the implementation of energy policies in Quebec. The current policy document, Energy in Quebec: A source of Growth (2016) sets goals to enhance energy efficiency by 15%, reduce the amount of petroleum products consumed by 40% , eliminate the use of thermal coal, increase overall renewable energy output by 25%, and increase bioenergy production by 50%.
On September 22, Premier Couillard of Quebec hosted Premier Wynne of Ontario and California Governor Jerry Brown in Québec City, where they signed an agreement which formally brings Ontario into the existing joint carbon market of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). This comes as no surprise: the government had announced its intention to join the WCR in April 2015 as part of its Climate Change Action Plan. When Ontario joins up with Quebec and California, effective January 1, 2018, the carbon market will cover a population of more than 60 million people and about C$4 trillion in GDP. The three governments will harmonize regulations and reporting, while also planning and holding joint auctions of GHG emission allowances. Text of the Agreement on the Harmonization and Integration of Cap-and-Trade Programs for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions is here. Here is an introduction to Ontario’s cap and trade program, which was announced as part of the For an up-to-date description of the Western Climate Initiative and its importance as a model for sub-national, international co-operation, see “Will Other States Join California’s International Climate Pact?” in The Atlantic (August 10 2017).
The Western Climate Initiative Inc. is based in Sacramento California, and is now “a non-profit corporation formed to provide administrative and technical services to support the implementation of state and provincial greenhouse gas emissions trading programs” .