Quebec could achieve its target of reducing GHG emissions

Québec pourrait atteindre sa cible de réduction des GES

Even in march, it was impossible, even preposterous, to believe that Quebec could achieve its 2020 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Two months of confinement later: it is now on track to succeed.

In 2009, the government of Jean Charest had set the objective of reducing GHG emissions by 20% in the bottom of the threshold of 1990, that is to say, issuing 69.4 million tonnes (Mt) of equivalent C02 in 2020.

However, according to Environment Canada data published in April on the GHG emissions for the year 2018, we find rather that Quebec was polluting more in recent years and issues of 82.6 Mt.

And then the pandemic has occurred. According to the most recent calculations of Pierre-Olivier Pineau, holder of the chair of management of the energy sector of HEC Montréal, Quebec could reduce its emissions of 10.3 Mt of GHG equivalent C02 by the end of the year. This is not very far from the level of 13.2 Mt of reduction necessary to achieve the target.

“It’s still just estimates, not forecasts”, nuance Mr. Pineau.

All that remains is a reduction of 10 million tonnes would be extraordinary when we know that between 1990 and 2018, Quebec has managed to reduce its GHG emissions to 4 million tonnes.

Simple solutions

This explains, in part, this sharp decline is the suspension of the industrial activities, but it is also, and especially, the decrease of the automobile traffic.

“These are not structural changes, but exceptional circumstances,” said Mr. Pineau.

It remains that it is possible to learn of the situation, he believes.

“The solutions are relatively simple: they are not technologies of the future, it is just a different organization of the transport and of the work.”

For example, if people worked from home only one day a week and if they were carpooling in a second day, Mr. Pineau of the opinion that we could reduce 20% to 30% of GHG emissions related to transportation by road on a year.

The impact is non-negligible, since the transport sector is the most polluting in Quebec.

“The nerve of the war is in transport”, adds the professor.

Opt for other means

The solution is not to prevent people from owning cars, says Karel Mayrand of the David Suzuki Foundation.

“The idea is to avoid the travel not required, to transfer to public transit when possible, and otherwise turn to less polluting vehicles and less polluting”, shows-t-it.

And it would be wrong to believe that only the people of the city have access to these alternatives.

“Several people can carpool with applications such as Netlift,” said Mr. Pineau. The advantage of the suburbs and rural areas is that there are more vehicles, which means that there is more flexibility for carpool or car-sharing. The availability of vehicles is not a problem.”

20% less on the road

To reduce its environmental footprint, the David Suzuki Foundation has also instituted the week to four days for its employees, there are a couple of years.

“Move four out of five days technically allows to reduce the mileage by 20%, and it has become a factor of retention, and that helps prevent stock-outs professionals,” said Mr. Mayrand.

“It is not everyone who is obliged to do so, but if 20% of people make it, it is already 20% less on the road,” said Mr. Pineau.


  • Quebec was committed in 2009, under the Charest government, to reduce by 2020 our GHG emissions by 20% below 1990, which was then 86,7 megatonnes of GHG equivalent C02. The target, therefore, was 69,4 megatons.
  • Upon his arrival to power in 2018, the prime minister, Legault has, however, been forced to recognize that this goal was unattainable. Emissions stagnated around 78 megatonnes of GHG equivalent C02 for a few years, and worse still, according to recent data from the federal government, the province issued an 82.6 mt in 2018.
  • François Legault has instead chosen to focus on the target of 2030, 54 megatonnes, a decrease of 37,5% compared with the threshold of 1990.


  • In 2018, up 43.3% of Québec’s overall GHG emissions came from the transport (the majority in road transport).
  • Between 1990 and 2018, the GHG emissions from road transport have increased by 66%.

Source: official Inventory of canada’s greenhouse gas 2018


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