Quebec Wins Suzuki’s Praise

It s an impressive accomplishment! Article here.

For the fourth year in a row, Quebec has lowered its total greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the amount of polluting gases that contribute to climate change even as the province’s economy and population have grown.

The news, made public yesterday by the Environment Department, was lauded by environmentalist David Suzuki, who was in Montreal speaking to a business audience.

Nationally, greenhouse gas emissions have climbed 21.8 per cent since 1990, the base year for international climate-change calculations. In Quebec, the rate has risen 1.6 per cent since 1990, but growth seems to have peaked in 2003. Since then, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to drop. In 2006, they were down 5.5 per cent compared with 2003.

“I was absolutely astounded to see the record of this province since 1990,” Suzuki said. “It’s an astounding achievement.”

Environment Minister Line Beauchamp said the province is on track to meet its targets under the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for a six-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. Quebec will have to work at it, but can achieve its goal, Beauchamp said yesterday.

“We have had the courage to put a price on carbon, to impose a tax on petroleum products, we have a green fund, and we have an action plan (on climate change),” she said. “We could be the only jurisdiction in North America able to say that we met the Kyoto targets in 2012.”

Quebec adopted a climate-change action plan in 2006 outlining steps such as reducing the speed limits for trucks to 105 km/h, capturing biogas from landfill sites and expanding public transit. That plan will help Quebec meet the Kyoto target, Beauchamp said, adding that Quebecers should be proud of the results so far.

In 2006, Quebec had the lowest greenhouse gas emissions in the country. Quebecer produced about 11.1 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person that year, compared with the Canadian average of 22.1.

The drop is the result of people retrofitting their homes to make them more energy efficient, switching their home heating from oil to natural gas and electricity, and choosing more energy-efficient cars, said Marcel Gaucher, head of Quebec’s Climate Change Office.

Transportation is still the sector producing the most emissions, accounting for 40 per cent of the carbon dioxide, methane and other gases that contribute to climate change. Since 1990, transportation emissions have climbed 21.9 per cent.

That’s troubling, said Steven Guilbeault, a spokesman for the environmental group Équiterre.

A serious overhaul of the sector will be required to cut emissions, he said.

That means reducing truck speed, shipping more goods by rail, and barring large trucks from downtown centres. Instead, goods could be delivered to a distribution centre, and then the rest of the delivery done by electric trucks, he said.

The fleet of cars on Quebec roads had grown since 1990, but more fuel-efficient, better-performing models reduce emissions, said Michel Goulet, director of Quebec’s atmosphere-quality department. But an increase in the popularity of small trucks, like minivans and sports-utility vehicles, is not helping, he added.

That’s why Quebec has to continue to improve public transportation, Guilbeault said, calling for the creation of a tramway in Montreal, improved suburban-train service and public transit for smaller cities and rural areas.

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How Quebec compares with rest of Canada in greenhouse gas emissions

Province Emissions Variations Population Emissions per

(megatonnes* of CO2) 1990 to 2006 person in 2006

1990 2006 % 2006 tonnes of CO2

NL.  18.4

P.E.I.  14.8

Nova Scotia  21.0

New Brunswick  23.9

Quebec 11.1

Ontario  15.0

Manitoba  18.0

Saskatchewan  73.1

Alberta  69.3

B.C. 14.5

Yukon  12.6

N.W.T. and Nunavut 17.7

Canada  22.1

* A megatonne = one million tonnes Source: Quebec Environment Department

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