Québec announces its GHG reduction target: 20% below 1990 levels by 2020
Last week, Québec Premier Jean Charest and Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Line Beauchamp, unveiled the province's target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 20% below 1990 levels by the year 2020. Seeking to be recognized as a Canadian leader against climate change, Québec has decided to set an objective similar to that established by the European Union.
In making the announcement, Premier Charest acknowledged that the province's target is very ambitious, especially given that 48% of its total energy requirements are currently satisfied by renewable energy sources. At approximately 11 tons per capita, or half the Canadian average, Québec already currently holds the best GHG emissions record in Canada. If it can achieve its 20% reduction target by 2020, the province would have the lowest level of emissions per capita in North America.
In announcing its target, the government stated that the proposed measures to be taken would show flexibility from one economic activity sector to another, notably by taking into account each one's overall reduction potential, international competitiveness, available technology and required transition measures. As an illustration of one particular sector's progress to date and to demonstrate that climate change does not necessarily have to come at the expense of economic growth, the Premier noted that the province's industrial sector had already achieved emissions reductions of over 7% in 2006, as compared to 1990 levels, despite the fact that Québec's GDP had increased by 41% over that same period.
As transportation accounts for 40% of Québec's GHG emissions, the government stated that it would be paying particular attention to that sector. In order to achieve the 2020 target, the government expects to make major investments in mass transit options and will take measures to encourage the increased use of intermodal transportation of goods. It also plans to introduce a GHG emission standard for light-duty vehicles equivalent to that in California. Also, as Québec-based corporations have demonstrated expertise in electric vehicle technologies, the government will encourage the development of that industry, as well as the use of such vehicles.
Lastly, through its participation in the Western Climate Initiative, the province will contribute to implementing the largest GHG cap and trade system in North America in 2012. The government expects that 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 lessen the economic impact of the anticipated oil crisis in the decades to come and improve Québec's trade balance.
With less than a week to go before the December 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen, the province of Québec has now clearly announced where it stands on climate change. In a statement aimed at her federal counterpart, Minster Beauchamp declared that "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."