Climate change | Quebec’s response is incorrect

Expert report recommends moratorium on road projects

Posted at 5:00am

Eric Pierre Champagne

Eric Pierre Champagne
The press

Quebec must give a boost if it is to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, warns the committee of experts who advise the government on climate change. In a new report, the group recommends two moratoria to Legault’s government: stop the destruction of natural environments and, in the short term, stop any permitting for new projects that increase the capacity of highways.

In a forty-page advisory that will be made public at 9 a.m. next Monday, the Climate Change Advisory Committee is issuing a serious warning to the Quebec government. The electrification of transport will not be enough to cope with the climate crisis. It is the entire spatial planning that needs to be thoroughly overhauled as soon as possible.

The Climate Change Advisory Committee is an independent organization whose mission is to advise the Minister of the Environment of Quebec “on orientations, programs, policies and strategies in the fight against climate change”. Her opinions are public.

In his most recent opinion entitled: Spatial planning in Quebec: fundamental to the fight against climate changethe committee reports to the Legault government that “Quebec’s response, however, is not aligned with the climate emergency.”

Changes must be made in public policy so that our development practices stop exacerbating our greenhouse gas emissions and limit our ability to adapt to the current and future impacts of climate change.

Extract from the Opinion of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change

The report states that the new national architecture and planning policy, to be unveiled this spring, “should mark a significant shift from past practices and become a powerful tool in the fight against climate change.” This policy is eagerly awaited by the municipal world, which wants Quebec to set clearer rules to limit urban sprawl and better protect farmland and natural environments. In particular, this will determine the government’s main guidelines in the field of development and urban planning.

Stop the artificialization of Quebec

The committee recommends that the government quickly establish two moratoriums, the time to acquire assessment tools that take into account the effects of climate change on land use planning.

The first moratorium aims to end “southern Quebec’s artificiality,” which continues at high speed as natural environments disappear every year.

The report recalls that in the south of the province, artificial surfaces increased by 9.3% between 1994 and 2007, representing an area of ​​278 km2.⁠2the equivalent of the city of Laval.


PHOTOGRAPH BERNARD BRAULT, PRESS ARCHIVES

Natural environments provide a number of ecological services, including carbon capture and storage.

However, the destruction of these natural environments results in the release of the carbon stored there, in addition to eliminating these essential carbon sinks, especially in urban areas. “The downside is then double that without counting all the other benefits we lose besides the loss of biodiversity,” said Jérôme Dupras, a professor in the department of natural sciences at the University of Quebec in Outaouais and co-author of the report revealed Monday.

The commission therefore proposes “a moratorium on any zoning change that leads to loss of natural environments”, while Quebec adopts, among other things, “clear targets for the preservation and restoration of natural environments” and prepares an action plan to reach the target of 30% protected areas in its territory by 2030.

The report calls for “adequate distribution” of these protected areas so that they do not occur mainly in the north of the province.

The other moratorium aims to “not increase highway capacity in Quebec’s six metropolitan regions as long as a public mechanism for evaluating the interactions between mobility, urban planning and transport supply is fully operational to prevent urban sprawl and reliance on the solo car are encouraged.” †

Energy replacement will not be enough

In conversation with The press, the commission’s chairman, Alain Webster, denies wanting to send any message about the controversial third link project in Quebec. “Our report does not look at a specific project. We know there are transportation issues, that’s for sure. Our message is not that nothing more should happen. What we’re saying is we need to integrate the issue of climate change into our assessment processes,” said the man who teaches environmental economics at the University of Sherbrooke.


PHOTOGRAPH PATRICK SANFAÇON, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Electrification of transport alone will not be enough to tackle the climate crisis, the report emphasizes.

The stakes are all the more important, the committee recalls, as “energy replacement alone will not be enough. In the transport sector, for example, the electrification of cars and light trucks should enable a reduction of emissions of 13% in 2030 compared to emissions in 1990 and this reduction should be 50% in 2035”. Energy replacement must therefore be “accompanied by greater energy efficiency and a reduction in aggregate demand”, it is stated.

“Quebec’s land development model has traditionally been based on a high level of resource consumption. It needs to be redefined so that Quebec has a chance to meet its climate goals and minimize the damage from a changing climate,” the report concludes.

We want the transition project to be exciting. Land use issues can lead to gains in the quality of life and well-being of the population. We’re not saying it’s easy. But it is a call for a new relationship with the territory.

Alain Webster, Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Committee

“The climatic emergency is an electric shock in light of regional planning,” adds Jérôme Dupras. We need to correct the mistakes of the past, especially in southern Quebec. The opportunity is there, you have to grab it. †

The report, made public on Monday, was sent to the Minister for the Environment and Combating Climate Change on April 5.

Who is on the Climate Change Advisory Committee?

The Climate Change Advisory Committee is a permanent, independent body that advises the Minister of the Environment and Combating Climate Change. It has 12 members and is chaired by Professor Alain Webster. There are Alain Bourque, from the Ouranos consortium, professors and researchers Jérôme Dupras, Annie Levasseur, Catherine Morency, Pierre-Olivier Pineau, Catherine Potvin, Lota Dabio Tamini as well as Kim Thomassin, Charles Larochelle, Alain Lemaire and Hugo Séguin.

More information user manual

  • 2.2 billion
    Annual value of the ecological services provided by the natural environments of Greater Montreal, calculated by Professor Jérôme Dupras in 2015.

    Source: Report of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change

  • 9
    In Quebec, urban sprawl was 9 times greater in 2016 than it was 50 years ago. The median distance between home and work increased by 15% in the province between 1996 and 2016.

    Source: Report of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change

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