August 20-27, 2007

Quebec reports progress in first year of climate change action plan

The first year of Quebec's Action Plan on Climate Change for 2006-2012 has been an active one in terms of launching initiatives, developing programs and regulations, and holding consultations, the province's Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Minister Line Beauchamp said recently as she released the Action Plan's first progress report.

Measures to put in place funding for the plan have been a particular highlight of the first year. Legislation passed in December, for example, gave Quebec's Energy Board the authority to make regulations creating the system of carbon taxes to be levied on fossil fuels to fund the plan.

The provincial government has allocated the plan a budget of $1.2 billion dollars over the 2006-2012 period, and in 2006 provided a $22-million advance to accelerate a number of funding programs that will be part of the Action Plan. This will allow programs addressing transport, research and technology, residual materials and public awareness to be set up without delay.

Progress has also been made with regard to energy efficiency and renewable energy. The province is in the process of revising its construction code with the aim of improving the energy performance of new buildings. Technical and economic evaluations were conducted in 2006 and public consultations are in progress, with a regulation expected by spring 2008. Quebec's Energy Efficiency Agency is due to present a plan for energy efficiency and new technologies to the Energy Board this fall.

This past May, notes the report, the provincial government introduced ClimatSol, a new program for the cleanup of contaminated lands which will promote the integration of measures with a substantial, measurable impact on greenhouse gas reduction into redevelopment projects for such sites.

The advance in funds has also made possible a number of transport-related initiatives. For example, $1.5 million will be invested in work to enlarge the port of Sept-Iles in order to encourage freight transport by water, and a grant of $16.5 million (assisted by the federal government and transportation industry groups) will support innovative mass transit projects such as the introduction of electric buses in Old Quebec City and hybrid buses in Montreal and Gatineau.

On the industrial side, the Action Plan has placed a high priority on negotiating sector-based agreements for greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, and the first of these, with Quebec's aluminum industry, has already been signed. The agreement calls for existing aluminum production facilities to reduce their GHG emissions by 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) between 2008 and 2012. New plants will be subject to a GHG emissions intensity limit of no more than two tonnes per tonne of aluminum produced.

GHG emissions from Quebec's aluminum industry declined by just over 500,000 tonnes of CO2e, or 6.7%, between 1990 and 2005, even as aluminum production increased by 106% during this period. In 2005, the province's aluminum refineries emitted an average of 2.7 tonnes of GHGs per tonne of aluminum produced, down from nearly six tonnes of GHGs per tonne of production in 1990. At the same time, these facilities have reduced their emissions intensity for perfluorinated hydrocarbons (PFC) by 76% between 1990 and 2005.

Beauchamp also announced that public reporting on the progress of the Action Plan will be done on an annual basis, rather than every three years as originally set out in the plan. Quebec's Action Plan on Climate Change may be viewed (in English) on the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Web site, www.mddep.gouv.qc.ca/changements/plan_action/index-en.htm.

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