By unveiling its Plan for a Green Economy on Monday, the Legault government is to announce that the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles will be banned in Quebec from 2035. This flagship measure of the province’s climate plan should make it possible to tackle gas emissions at greenhouse effect of the transport sector, a heavyweight in Quebec’s balance sheet.
“From 2035, in Quebec, we will no longer be able to buy gasoline vehicles [dans le marché du neuf]. It will have to be fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, ”said Minister of the Environment and the fight against climate change, Benoit Charette, in an interview published on Saturday morning by Press.
Still according to what Minister Charette said, this measure would target the personal vehicles of Quebecers, namely cars and sports utility vehicles (SUVs). Gasoline vehicles will still be able to be sold in the used vehicle market, but their number is expected to decline over the years, due to the ban on the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles.
To achieve its objective, the government should amend the Act to increase the number of zero-emission motor vehicles in Quebec, so as to substantially increase the supply of electric vehicles at dealerships in Quebec. Concretely, the minister hopes “to force manufacturers to make electric vehicles available”. “With our zero emission law and with the obligation [pour 2035], producers will not have the choice of supplying the market, ”he explained to Press.
The government also reportedly intends to maintain the purchase subsidy, but the minister raised the idea that it, which currently stands at $ 8,000, could be revised downwards in the coming years. The federal government also offers a subsidy for buyers of electric vehicles.
2035 or 2030?
This desire to accelerate the decarbonization of the transport sector, which comes on the heels of a similar announcement in September in California, has been welcomed by environmental groups. Greenpeace spokesperson Patrick Bonin, as well as Solidarity Quebec, however, plead for a ban on sales of new gasoline vehicles by 2030. During the 2018 election campaign, Québec solidaire put forward such a proposal. Mr. Bonin also argued on Saturday that the United Kingdom has just announced its intention to impose the same ban as Quebec, but the end of the decade.
Reacting on Twitter on Saturday, the solidarity deputy Ruba Ghazal reiterated the commitment in favor of a ban which would take place in 2030. Minister Benoit Charette replied that such a target is “radical”, since “Quebec has not an automotive market large enough to single-handedly dictate the North American market ”. According to what the minister added, the countries of Europe do not agree on a ban from 2030.
Whatever the government’s target, Quebec will have a lot to do to decarbonize its transportation sector. There are currently approximately 80,000 electric vehicles on the roads of Quebec, or less than 1.5% of the total vehicle fleet.
Increase in GHGs
Any plan to fight climate change here involves measures for the transport sector. According to most recent data government available, this failure is explained in particular by a marked growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transport sector, which have jumped 23% since 1990. They thus reached 34.06 million tonnes in 2017, or 43.3% of all Quebec emissions. The “road transport” sector alone saw emissions growth of 49.6% between 1990 and 2017, to the point of representing more than a third of Quebec’s GHGs.
Over this same period, the Quebec Ministry of the Environment calculated a growth of over 127% in emissions produced by “light trucks”, that is mainly sport utility vehicles, due to a 253% growth in their emissions. number on our roads. And road transport linked to “heavy vehicles” has seen its emissions grow by 170%.
This marked increase in GHG emissions from the transport sector This largely explains Quebec’s failure to meet its emission reduction targets. While the objective set by the Liberals in 2009 called for a 20% drop in emissions by 2020, compared to the 1990 level, the most recent report published by the Ministry of the Environment and the Fight against Changes climate report specifies that emissions fell only 8.7% in 2017 compared to 1990.
Plan unveiled Monday
The government hopes to change this and reduce Quebec’s GHG emissions by presenting its “Plan for a green economy”. This plan, together with a budget envelope of $ 6.5 billion, should, according to the government, reduce GHGs by 37.5% by 2030, compared to 1990.
Quebec’s objective of reducing its emissions by 37.5% by 2030 is indeed below what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends. This estimates that to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement, it will be necessary to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 compared to the level of 2010. This includes a reduction of at least 45% of CO2 emissions, the main GHG from human activity.
For Quebec, a 50% drop would mean reducing annual emissions to around 40 million tonnes. With the current target of the Legault government, emissions should instead reach around 54 million tonnes in 2030. The gap is equivalent to half of current emissions from the road transport sector. But Minister Benoit Charette closed the door to a revision of the target for 2030, judging that the IPCC target is “unrealistic” and that such a “radical” transition would be very damaging for the Quebec economy.
However, the government will set itself the ambitious goal of a Quebec that would not emit, so to speak, more greenhouse gases (GHGs) within 30 years, and that would therefore be “carbon neutral” in 2050. The remaining emissions should therefore be offset, in particular through the technological developments expected over the next few years, such as carbon capture and storage.