Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2020. Lyman’s bio can be read here.
Canada’s provinces have taken broadly similar approaches to climate policy so far, but none so stringent as Quebec. If one examines Quebec’s policy, however, it reveals some striking inconsistencies.
Quebec’s economy has extremely low GHG emissions intensity compared to other jurisdictions internationally. Yet, the province has embraced the most stringent approach to further emissions reduction of any Canadian province.
Quebecers and their provincial governments have demonstrated considerable hostility towards fossil fuels. Yet, the province remains heavily dependent on oil and natural gas for key economic activities.
As Quebec’s GHG emissions are so low, it has fewer options available to achieve further emissions reductions. Yet, the sectors where emissions cuts must be made are those where reductions will be the most difficult and costly.
Quebec chose emissions trading (i.e. “cap and trade”) as its preferred way of implementing carbon dioxide pricing. Yet, it then blunted the potential effectiveness of this approach by exempting many of the most emissions-intensive firms.
Quebec chose emissions trading as a carbon dioxide pricing system in the belief that it offered a lower-cost option for its industry than the federally-applied carbon dioxide tax system. While this has been true sometimes since 2007, Quebec now faces a federal requirement that its trading system produce the same result as the carbon dioxide taxes.
Quebec governments like to present themselves as socially “progressive”. Yet, of all the provinces, Quebec has adopted the most regressive approach to recycling of carbon dioxide pricing revenues.
Emissions reduction in road passenger transportation is absolutely central to attaining Quebec’s emissions reduction target by 2030. Yet, the best that combined federal and Quebec measures taken to date are likely to achieve is a reduction of 5 Mt, far below the level needed to meet that target.
The federal government’s projections of industrial GHG emissions show an increase, not a decrease, by 2030. While, within Quebec, provincial measures might produce some emission reductions through increased efficiency, these are unlikely to achieve the reductions large enough to meet Quebec’s target. Higher reductions in industrial emissions would require political choices that the Quebec government so far has shown itself unwilling to make.
Note: Report reposted at 3:44 pm April 03, 2020 with correction to include the words ‘per capita’ emissions of Quebec on page 4.