Originally Published in The Suburban Dec 20
COP 21 has wrapped and we’ve had a moment to digest the first global agreement of this stature to address climate change. The hope that Canada will play a productive leadership role on the international stage in the fight against climate change is getting many people excited. However, our internal politics are multilateral and the federal government needs the provinces to do the hard work of meeting our international obligations.
Over the last 15 years Québec has been taking major steps in its own fight against emissions and climate change. Québec has done so occasionally in tandem with other provinces and on its own. With new leadership in Ottawa and the goal of a united strategy against emissions, Québec’s role within Canada will be an important one. Tested strategies with national replicability will need to be implemented and provinces will have to work together to ensure national and international goals are met.
Transport and energy are, when it comes down to it, within provincial jurisdiction. Canada’s federal system has allowed individual provinces to move forward with progressive energy and emissions strategies while the government at the federal level tarried. Québec has been one of the more progressive provinces working hard to reduce emissions.
Provinces will continue to have to work together, melding their varied strategies from carbon taxes (BC + Alberta) to cap and trade (Ontario and Quebec). Québec has a great opportunity to help other provinces catch up and with the support of the federal government, enhance our own strategies. That being said, putting a cap on emissions, taxing carbon or allowing for the trading of credits is good, but we need practical solutions to actually keep below these caps, avoid the taxes and reduce the carbon market.
Québec has a long history of a major energy producer. As the largest electricity generator in the country and the largest producer of hydro-electricity globally, Québec has proven that low carbon solutions while still running an energy based economy is not only possible but profitable. Hydro-electricity has proven to be a boon to the Québec economy, keeping energy prices and emissions low.
As Canada takes a step forward to address climate change, Québec must lead. Québec’s great success in the production of energy puts us in a strong position to move beyond these accomplishments. The globe is aiming toward a zero carbon economy by shortly after 2050. Québec can get there first, thanks to our natural resources and strong infrastructure. We can lead Canada to do the same. If we can prove practically that a united Canada can reduce emissions, produce energy and grow its economy, our post 2050 future on an international stage will be a strong one
Québec needs to be a leader in Canada so Canada can be a leader internationally. In order to succeed in a future carbon neutral economy we need to get there early and develop those technologies. Québec must improve its energy production to include more and more varied renewables for a resilient system. We must also reduce our consumption through energy efficiency, smarter use of electricity (including the smart grid) and improvement of energy consumption habits.
The transportation system in Québec and throughout Canada is dominated by highways. Infrastructure for low and zero carbon transportation must be built and built soon. This means developing strong municipal and inter-urban transportation based on electric and/or hydrogen vehicles. It means building out a network of electric and hydrogen charging and fuelling stations. All of these technologies will be necessary and our habits will equally need to change
With the global community finally agreeing that we need an economy that doesn’t rely on carbon this century, the opportunities for economic, social and environment improvement are immense. Knowing where the world economy is going in the 21st century, Québec can lead Canada and Canada can in turn lead the world in getting there. It is time to build a strong economy based on abundance instead of scarcity in which we have systems that respect our communities and the environment; an economy that allows us to meet our needs while assuring future generations and future ecosystems will be able to do the same.