Skip to navigationSkip to content

Climate and the Green Economy: Canada must become a worldwide example and follow Quebec’s lead

How can we help businesses, employers and their employees undertake the necessary innovations all while taking heed of the realities, and limitations, of the average citizen?

Op-ed by Yves-Thomas Dorval, Adm.A., ASC, ARP, CPQ's President and CEO, published exclusively on our website on June 21, 2019.

In the months leading up to the federal elections, each of the major parties has expressed its support for the Paris Agreement in which, by 2030, Canada is to reduce its 2005-level greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. Yet herein lies the real question: How can we help businesses, employers and their employees undertake the necessary innovations all while taking heed of the realities, and limitations, of the average citizen?

Between the call from younger generations and a growing awareness among their elders, the task of transforming the economy to face the challenges of climate change will be the quintessential hot topic for years to come, both here and around the world. When young people take to the streets, it is to compel us hear their concerns. We must step up and help them foster conditions in which society can prosper during a time of great upheaval all while also helping entrepreneurs stay ahead of the curve. This involves setting aside ideological divides, antagonisms and politicking as it is incumbent on all of us, for the sake of our youth and of future generations, to foster hope in a better tomorrow.

Disagreement may exist across the country about how this is to be achieved, but we do have an ace up our sleeve: Canada’s sights are firmly set on finding solutions to ready tomorrow’s economy for this shift and preserve society’s capacity to prosper.

As such, we ought to hail the movement that has begun to take shape in Quebec and that is rallying stakeholders from all fronts. On many occasions since the election of the provincial government, and in the wake of COP24, we have maintained the importance of engaging all ministries in a coordinated effort to swiftly develop an effective and definitive climate strategy. The provincial government’s commitments are in this sense brimming with good intentions and the initiative it announced last week towards building an electrification and climate change plan in 2020 is laudable.

We wholeheartedly support government strategies that aim to wean economies off carbon, in Quebec just as in Canada and also in neighbouring jurisdictions. Our capacity to produce green electricity is a tremendous asset and we have everything to gain in helping our neighbours benefit from it too. We must also leverage the potential offered to us by other sectors, notably to support regions outside major urban centres. Think biofuels, biomass, renewable natural gas (RNG) and hydrogen, not to mention circular economies, particularly when it comes to residual and secondary materials.

The transport sector will need strategies to help it reduce greenhouse gas emissions, traffic congestion, and number of trips. Electrification presents itself as an excellent initiative when it comes to public transit but must be matched with a massive increase in supply if it is to meet glaring demand. The growth of international and online trade and the subsequent upswing in the transport of goods requires innovative solutions that go beyond simply copy-pasting measures developed for passenger transport. Urban planning and management practices must also be overhauled to respond to increasingly pronounced climate hazards.

Twenty to thirty years from now, society will have transformed itself entirely. The lifestyles and expectations of citizens will have also evolved. Fittingly, Quebec has undertaken, for instance, to review the means at its disposal to adapt and remodel itself so that other energy sectors can enjoy the kind of global success its hydroelectric sector has seen. Yet such a vision of change does not come pre-assembled. To work, it needs civil society’s buy-in. Canada and each of its provinces and territories must all look ahead and follow suit, no matter their political persuasion.

Climate and the Green Economy: Canada must become a worldwide example and follow Quebec’s lead