|The projected impact of the new action plan on GHG emissions in Québec. Click to enlarge.|
The government of the Canadian province of Québec has launched a 24-point, six-year action plan to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in key sectors such as energy, transportation, industry and agriculture, and to adapt to the effects of climate change in others. Among the actions are restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and a carbon tax.
Although Québec has the best record in Canada with regard to GHG emissions, its emissions have risen 6.6% since 1990. The plan aims primarily to reverse this upward trend by adopting actions that will enable the entire economy to improve its competitiveness and decrease its dependence on fossil energy.
The government forecasts that in the aggregate, the new actions will enable Québec to set an achievable reduction objective for the next six years of 10 Mt of CO2-equivalent (CO2e). Hitting that number will lower the level of GHG emissions to 84.0 Mt of CO2e in 2012, or 1.5 % below the 1990 level. Canada’s Kyoto commitment is a reduction of 6% below 1990 levels.
Transportation is the sector in Québec that emits the largest amount of greenhouse gases, accounting for 37.4% of the total. Emissions from the sector are continuing to increase, despite current efforts to cut emissions, including: investment in and encouragement of public transit; more efficient use of multimodal transportation for shipping; changes to registration fees to reduce GHGs and the polluting emissions of vehicles; and an inspection program to keep vehicles operating more cleanly.
The new action plan—Québec and Climate Change, A Challenge for the Future—outlines a series of additional actions to be taken in the transportation sector, including:
Implementing new standards restricting the emission of greenhouse gases from new cars similar to the standards set by the state of California for limiting the GHG emissions of vehicles. The government projects that such restrictions could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,700 kt CO2e in 2012. This represents the second-largest single reduction resulting from any of the actions outlined, behind only the capture of biogas from landfills (2,500 kt).
Setting a minimum 5% ethanol component for total fuel sales by 2012. The Québec Government intends to encourage local production of ethanol from forest biomass, agriculture and municipal waste, and not from grain corn. “Although technologically more difficult, it is environmentally and economically more profitable for Québec.” The government wishes to have an ethanol manufacturing demonstration plant using biomass in operation around 2008. Avoidance/reduction potential in 2012: 780 kt.
Encouraging municipalities to implement idling-restriction laws. A few municipalities in Québec, including Montréal and Québec City, are already regulating idling within their jurisdictions. (Montréal’s by-law limits idling to three minutes.) The government wants other municipalities to follow suit. Avoidance/reduction potential in 2012: 210 kt.
Further encouraging the development and use of public transit. The government will encourage the development and use of public transportation by, among other things, financing the creation of reserved lanes and adopting preferential measures for public transportation, the purchase of electric or hybrid buses, the addition of commuter trains, and the improvement of metro infrastructures. It will also encourage increased use of public transportation over other forms of transportation. Avoidance/reduction potential in 2012: 100 kt.
Encouraging the development and use of transportation alternatives such as car-sharing, carpooling and active transportation (cycling, walking, etc.). To promote cycling, as an example, Québec sees a need to develop safe bike paths that run from residential neighborhoods to the work areas, like the city cores, industrial parks, shopping centres, and facilities within the education networks. Avoidance/reduction potential in 2012: 30 kt.
Encouraging the implementation of intermodal projects for transporting merchandise. The Ministère des Transports, which will be responsible for this action, will seek a better balance between the different transportation modes in Québec’s existing network, while aiming to protect the environment, maintain security and ensure adequate road management. It will also encourage increased used of public transportation over other forms of transportation. Avoidance/reduction potential in 2012: 80 kt.
Implementing a program to support the marketing of energy-efficiency technology in the transportation of merchandise. Between 1990 and 2003, GHG emissions generated by heavy-duty vehicles increased by 41%. With this action, the government will encourage the introduction of new technologies in energy efficiency and the reduction of GHG emissions of trucking companies. The financing program will facilitate access to the best performing operating assistance systems (OAS), electric feed systems, onboard computers and new more energy efficient engines. With regard to maritime and rail transport, the government will focus on investments to improve technologies and techniques designed to make ships and locomotives more efficient. Avoidance/reduction potential in 2012: 900 kt.
Mandating the use of speed-limiting devices on all trucks, and setting the maximum speed at 105 kmh (65 mph). The regulation will cover all heavy-duty vehicles registered in Québec. Avoidance/reduction potential in 2012: 330 kt.
The total projected reductions or avoidance in 2012 from the transportation sector comes to 4.13 Mt, or 42% of the total programmatic reductions (9.890 Mt).
The carbon tax. Funding for the action plan is to come from a carbon-tax levied on the polluter-pays principle, and will take the form of a royalty on hydrocarbons. The government expects the tax to raise about C$200-million a year over six years. Proceeds will finance a C$1.2-billion Green Fund.