The COVID-19 pandemic may have pushed climate change issues off the front pages of our newspapers, but the environmental crisis still poses a threat, and the Government of Quebec’s 2030 Plan for a Green Economy (2030 PGE) designed to deal with it falls well short of the mark according to the CUPE Quebec Environment Committee.

The Committee is quite concerned with the lack of ambition shown in the PGE, starting with the targets that are hard to achieve and especially non-restrictive in terms of greenhouse gas reduction.

Greenhouse gas target

To achieve its greenhouse reduction objectives by 2030, Quebec must lower its emissions by 29 megatonnes. The measures announced on Monday only reduce them by 12.4 megatonnes. Since the initial plan called for 20 million tonnes, it is imperative that the targets in the original plan be followed. The GNL Quebec gas pipeline project must also be scrapped, as that company wants to liquefy and export fossil fuels from Western Canada to international markets through the Saguenay.

Pay to pollute

The PGE strategic paper reveals that the CAQ government has identified 15 million tonnes of potential reductions, i.e., more than 50% of the target, in the form of Quebec-California carbon credits purchased on the stock market. Emission reductions in California would therefore be acquired by major Quebec emitters as rights to pollute. That way, Quebec could take credit for pollution cutbacks which, in reality, are achieved in the US. In short, the government is planning to purchase emission reductions achieved elsewhere and add them to its own record.

Ironically, back in 2017, the CAQ criticized the idea of buying carbon credits outside Quebec to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets, terming it a “drain on capital.”

Transportation electrification

The PGE takes a position on the transition to the electrification of transportation for 2035. The sale of new gas-powered vehicles in Quebec will be prohibited from that year forward. However, to have an actual impact, the target should be moved up to 2030. Even the automobile industry says it’s ready to make this transition before 2035.

In short, the PGE should call for a fair and green transition of jobs for workers, but the nerve needed to do so is clearly lacking. Quebec must implement an effective ecofiscal program (bonus/malus) to innovate through research and create quality jobs for the Quebec of tomorrow.