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Policy Bulletin #26

Climate Public Policy Highlights

· Policy Bulletin
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Free public transit for all in Montpellier

Montpellier, France (pop. 300,000), has started to implement free public transportation for all residents — an expansion of the current policy allows those under 18 and over 65 to ride for free. The Mayor of Montpellier, Michaël Delafosse, recently announced that starting on December 21st 2023, all public transit will be free for all residents of the city.

Accessible public transit allows for the reduced usage of cars, which reduces congestion, emissions, and air pollution in cities. Making public transit affordable is a big part of making it accessible, and it will now be an option to those of lower income, as well as a more attractive option than cars in general.

The residents of Montpellier already pay for transit infrastructure through their taxes, so having a fare in a certain sense amounted to them paying twice. While the fare-free policy only applies for city residents, this is a step in the right direction that Canadian municipalities could emulate.

Currently, very few municipalities in Canada have free public transit for all residents comparable to Montpellier, though Canmore offers fare-free service, and some other municipalities have free transit based on age. In Montreal, for example, public transit will be free for seniors 65 and up starting in July. At the same time though, fare prices have been increasing for public transit systems across the country. This tendency is in part due to an increase in remote working, which has led to a drop in ridership and a decrease in revenu for transit agencies. A potential way to improve this would be to increase the funds towards public transit so that it is less dependent on the fares.




Call for a strong federal oil and gas emissions cap  

The federal Canadian government is in the process of designing an emissions cap for oil and gas production. This cap would establish a max amount of emissions per year that gets reduced as time goes on. Emitters that are below the threshold can trade their remaining emissions with emitters who are above the cap, so that the total amount of emissions are below the cap.

Emissions from the oil and gas industry in Canada now account for nearly 30 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. As part of Canada’s commitment to reduce emissions by 2030, draft regulations expected in June, with emissions cap promised to be in place by the end of 2023.




British Columbia implements new "clean" building legislation

On May 1st 2023, the government of British Columbia updated the BC building code, which will now require 20% better energy efficiency for most new buildings. The idea is to slowly increase the threshold over time, so that buildings are at net zero by 2032.

New legislation increases baseline and adds a step four, with buildings at 40% more efficiency than normal, above the step 3 of previous years, allowing municipalities more control in what level of energy efficiency they want to incentivise, which the municipalities of Nelson and Victoria, among others, have taken up on. While it is mostly voluntary for the moment, it gives the municipalities more power over their building codes, allowing some of them to incentivise stronger regulations.

In addition, the legislation introduces the Zero Carbon step code, which provides tools for local governments to encourage or require lower emissions in new buildings. This is a tool that the local governments have already started to adopt, which the municipality of Whistler has done, with the code to take effect on January 1st 2024, to allow builders time to adjust.