Quebec launches $2.7 billion climate change action plan

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The Government of Québec has launched a $2.7 billion strategy to tackle climate change and to meet its goal of bringing greenhouse-gas emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Pierre Arcand and Minister of Transport Pierre Moreau unveiled the 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan (PACC 2020) last week and the accompanying Government Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation.

'We have set the most ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target in North America for ourselves. The new action plan and strategy for adaptation that we announce today demonstrate our strong determination to guide Québec to a greener, more prosperous and sustainable economy,' Premier Charest stated.

A plan of broad scope

The action plan and strategy for adaptation call for investments totalling nearly 2.7 billion dollars and is intended to be self-financed through revenues from the carbon market and the extension until 2014 of charges on fossil fuels and combustibles.

It will be deployed through 30 action priorities, with particular focus in the areas of sustainable mobility, land use and energy, which are sectors where Québec can make significant gains in terms of GHG emission reductions.

The planned actions will contribute in a major way to achieving Québec's climate change objective of reducing GHG emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. The plan's actions will be both coherent and structuring for citizens, businesses, partners and municipalities.

This action plan is the successor to the 2006 plan, which ends this year. 'The 2020 Action Plan represents the biggest investment in the fight against climate change in the history of Québec. It is evidence of our unshakeable will to assume a leading position in environmental matters, for the wellbeing of current and future generations,' Minister Arcand declared.

Quebec plans to spend about $200 million helping companies improve their carbon footprint and energy efficiency, and another $100 million will go towards research into reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, developing climate-monitoring networks and adapting to climate change.

The government also will spend $94 million helping municipalities and communities cut greenhouse-gas emissions, adapt to climate change and to practice sustainable land-use planning.

Other measures planned include adopting new energy-efficiency standards for home appliances, encouraging the use of hybrid trucks and supporting the development of environmentally friendly neighbourhoods.

Major investments in transportation

Two-thirds of revenues flowing from the action plan will fund transportation measures such as public and alternative transit. These investments will enable GHG emission reductions in this industry, which accounts for 43% of all GHG emissions in Québec. Québec's GHG emissions hit a historic peak in 2003, reaching 6.8% above 1990 levels before subsequently declining by 8.7% and, in 2009, sinking to 2.5% below 1990 levels.

'The transport industry must play a fundamental role in reducing our GHG emissions. In this regard, we are going to support not only public and alternative transit, but also inter-modality and energy efficiency in freight transport. The ministère des Transports will be hard at work following up on the planned actions and participating in reaching the GHG reduction targets we have set for ourselves,' added Minister of Transport Pierre Moreau.

Two-phase rollout

The action plan is the cornerstone of the government's strategic approach to the fight against climate change, to which other government initiatives will be added. Accordingly, choices in the realms of sustainable mobility, land-use planning and energy must contribute significantly to the attainment of our GHG emission reduction objectives.

The initiatives announced today constitute the first phase of an open-ended plan. They should lead to reductions in Québec on the order of 6.1 megatons of the estimated 11.7 megatons necessary to achieve the GHG emission reduction target for 2020, said the government press release.

As announced in the last provincial Budget, the second phase of the action plan will be launched at midpoint in the plan, taking into account the revenue that the carbon market generates and the new policy directions adopted with respect to sustainable mobility, land-use planning and energy.

The action plan will also evolve according to the development of climate science, new technologies and Québec's progress in the attainment of its objectives.

The 2012 Budget Statement on Climate Change 'Québec and Climate Change - A Greener Environment' is available here.

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