ELECTIONS · QUEBEC
What are the implications for the climate
in the wake of the Quebec election results?
During the election, Climate Reality Canada supported Vire au vert, a non-partisan coalition of 26 environmental and citizen groups that mobilized to put climate and environment at the center of the conversation. Their recommendations were based on the principles of increasing ambition, acting quickly, consistency and inclusivity. They included strengthening the 2030 target to match the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speeding up the phase-out of gas-powered vehicles, protecting agricultural land, and more.
Quebec has room for improvement when it comes to climate action. A report released by HEC at the beginning of the year showed that the province is not projected to meet its 2030 target, which is a 37.5% reduction in emissions below 1990 levels. Options such as increasing the supply of renewable electricity by building a new dam are strongly opposed by most First Nations as it would result in further flooding of their traditional territories.
Transportation accounts for the majority of provincial emissions, and climate experts point to the need for disincentives (such as fuel tax) as well as incentives (such as EV subsidies) in order to meet the 2030 target in time. However, there is less political will among elected officials to propose these kinds of disincentives, for fear of the popular backlash they might provoke.
- "The State of Energy in Quebec" (Report published by the HEC, available in French only) https://energie.hec.ca/eeq/
Mandating climate education in school curriculums
In September, the state of Connecticut passed a new law which requires all school districts to ensure climate change is part of the regular science curriculum starting in July 2023. Most schools already teach climate change in some capacity, but the legislation protects climate education from budget cuts or changes in government. The law also ensures teaching meets Next Generation Science standards, which stipulates (for example) that students must learn climate change is human-caused.
How does this compare with Canadian provinces? The 2015 Paris Agreement calls for countries to adopt climate education and training strategies, but Canada has yet to do this at a federal level.
Last year, British Columbia became the first province to create a policy statement on teaching climate change, but this does not carry the same force or specificity as the Connecticut law. Ellen Field, a scholar based at Lakehead University, researches the state of K-12 climate education in Canada, and has found that curricula vary greatly between provinces and that curricula tend to spend more time focusing on the causes of climate change rather than solutions, which could contribute to climate anxiety for students.
ENERGY · FEDERAL POLICY
Flaws in the proposed federal Framework on Clean Electricity
Following public consultations, the federal government released its proposed framework for clean electricity regulations at the end of July. This is the framework that lays out how Canada will meet its commitment to a net-zero electricity grid by 2035. While 82% of Canada’s electricity is already produced from clean sources such as hydropower, the remaining percentage comes from natural gas, coal, or petroleum. While the framework is a necessary step, policy experts from the Canadian Climate Institute are skeptical whether the measures as proposed will actually result in meeting the net-zero target.
They have identified three criticisms →
- First, the framework states that GHG emissions from electricity after 2035 must either be neutralized through offsetting, or face a fine. But the second option allows for the continued release of GHGs without any offsetting, meaning the grid would not be net-zero.
- Second, there are issues with the current federal carbon pricing scheme for electricity which the framework does not address. The CCI analysis recommends removing output-based pricing for electricity (as under the current system) and instead applying the regular carbon pricing framework, which would result in a steadily increasing financial incentive for providers to switch away from fossil fuels in time to meet the 2035 target.
- Third, the analysts argue that the framework does not go as far as it could due concerns around the affordability of electricity. They point out that rather than watering down the framework itself, we can improve existing subsidies and supports for energy costs and efficiency retrofits for low-income households.
In October, a coalition of civil society orga-nizations submitted a letter to the government calling for actual zero-emissions electricity by not allowing any extensions, exemptions, or loopholes.
- The proposed framework: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-environmental-protection-act-registry/publications/proposed-frame-clean-electricity-regulations.html
- Announcement of the Clean ElectricityStandard: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2022/03/canada-launches-consultations-on-a-clean-electricity-standard-to-achieve-a-net-zero-emissions-grid-by-2035.html
- Canadian Institute for Climate Choice’s official response to the proposed framework: https://climateinstitute.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Response-frame-clean-electricity-regulations.pdf
- Policy Options piece: https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/september-2022/clean-electricity-genuinely-net-zero/