Critics of a privatized Montreal transit project are wondering why it qualifies for federal support, in light of new environmental requirements for federal infrastructure funding.

Climate change expert Luc Gagnon has analyzed the impact of the Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM) light rail project, and says it will increase, not reduce, greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet on July 6, the federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi announced that federal infrastructure funding will only go to projects that benefit the environment, particularly by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

In June, the federal government confirmed the REM will receive $ 1.2 billion in federal funding. But this project has failed the only independent GHG emission test that’s been applied to it.

“The numbers are clear: the REM will produce far more greenhouse gas emissions than it will reduce,” says Gagnon, a climate change expert responsible for evaluating GHGs. “The REM fails so miserably on the environment that the provincial government had to bring in a decree that retroactively deems the REM in compliance with environmental law.”

CUPE Quebec is part of the Trainsparence coalition opposing the REM for its environmental shortcomings and high costs, as well as the project’s poor planning and profit-driven design.

In January, the REM failed to get the green light from the province’s environmental review board. Among the reasons was the fact the REM did not have a fair and thorough climate test, which evaluates GHG emissions and reductions.

“The promoters behind the REM failed to consider fundamental factors like urban sprawl, construction materials and vegetation clearing,” adds Gagnon. “It’s mind-boggling that in the 21st century we’d spend between $6 and $10 billion on SkyTrain technology that is bad for the environment.”

Gagnon’s analysis shows the REM will actually produce between 60,000 and 80,000 tons of GHGs per year. The province has refused to look at other options, even though many cleaner, cheaper and more efficient technologies exist.