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Quebec meets 2020 GHG reduction target, cites pandemic help

Quebec environment officials said in a new report that the province may have reached its GHG reduction targets due to reduced economic activity and road traffic from the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit: Pascal Huot,

The Quebec government says greenhouse gas reductions during 2020 surpassed climate change targets, primarily due to reduced economic activity and road traffic from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data released at the end of 2022 shows that Quebec’s greenhouse gases (GHG) dropped 26.6% below 1990 levels. The set target had been a 20% reduction, states the new report.

“This reduction, however, is largely explained by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is important to continue our efforts to further reduce emissions in our territory and accelerate our climate transition,” announced Environment Minister Benoit Charettea, in a statement translated from French.

The report indicates that the net balance of GHG emissions was 62.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (Mt CO2 eq.) in 2020. It also states specifically that the province would not have reached the GHG reduction target without the “extraordinary” events of the pandemic. During this time, the province also did not induce a sustained trend towards reduction for the long term, noted the report, although its authors conceded that telecommuting could be permanent for some workers.

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Quebec spent more than $4 billion over 2013-2020 to achieve the GHG reduction target. However, the report notes that the province did not use some 20% of the funds allocated for GHG reduction.

Also, during 2020, the population of Quebec increased by 22.6% and GDP by 67.3%, compared to 1990 levels. Quebec emissions represented 11% of Canadian emissions, which reached 672.4 Mt eq. CO2, states the report.

Quebec’s primary target is for 2030, when the province hopes to have a 37.5% reduction compared to 1990 levels. Ultimately, it aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Quebec also participates in the United Nations’ Goal Zero campaign, whose members aim to achieve carbon neutrality no later than 2050.

In the new GHG reduction announcement, Minister Charette wanted to ensure that more recent regulations have been created since 2020 to reduce GHG emissions. He noted that a new bylaw will gradually ban fuel oil for heating residential buildings; minimum low carbon content requirements will gradually reach 15% in gasoline and 10% in diesel fuel by 2030; a minimum target of 10% gas from renewable sources is set for 2030; and finally, there will be a push towards electric school buses.

The province also released a new report on the net flows of GHG emission rights trading between Quebec and California for the period 2013-2020. Quebec companies bought a billion dollars’ worth of emissions rights in California as part of the cap-and-trade system.

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