New provincial budget: ambitious GHG reduction targets, but where's the money?
Quebec City, March 20, 2012 – In the provincial budget unveiled today, Finance Minister Raymond Bachand reaffirmed Quebec's ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, but failed to follow through with a realistic plan.
The government has earmarked $2.4 billion in revenue from the carbon market to finance the 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan. This represents an increase in funding of $130 million a year. (The plan is currently financed by a duty on fuel and fossil fuels, which will be extended for at least one more year until the end of 2014. No word yet on what will happen after that.)
Two-thirds of this money will be invested in the transportation sector, including public transit and alternative transportation. But it would take an investment of $1.5 billion a year to see real progress in these areas.
Sidney Ribaux, executive director of Equiterre, explains: "The slower we are to invest, the more difficult it will be to meet our reduction goals by 2020. The transportation sector is responsible for 43% of the greenhouse gas emissions in this province. But it's clear that these new amounts won't be enough to maintain infrastructure, improve service or boost ridership. The government could have increased the carbon tax and decreased investments in new roads to make more of a real difference."
The 8-year Climate Change Action Plan does include some good points though, including:
- $60 million over five years for green belts to curb urban sprawl in Montreal and Quebec City
- $50 million for the Cycle Capital Fund III, which supports the development of clean technologies
- More than $178 million in both residential and commercial green buildings
- $115 million to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in the freight transportation sector
Equiterre is disappointed by the near absence of agriculture and food from this budget. We would have have liked to have seen measures supporting organic farming and local food procurement quotas for schools and hospitals.
Émilie Vallières, 514 605-2000