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A climate blitz in Quebec City

Blog - Steven Guilbeault

There’s been a whirlwind of activity on climate change issues in Quebec City the last few days.

It all started with the Act on Climate March—one of the largest in Canada—which brought together over 25,000 happy, peaceful marchers, who wound up by forming a giant thermometer to illustrate global warming.

The message was simple: we want our leaders to fight climate change by moving towards a low-carbon economy and not supporting polluting projects like the TransCanada Energy East pipeline.

On Monday, SWITCH, the Alliance for a Green Economy in Quebec, presented the Canadian Roundtable on the Green Economy. The roundtable was co-chaired by Sophie Brochu, CEO of Gaz Métro and Ed Whittingham of the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental group. The participants, from all over Canada, were from diverse sectors, including manufacturing, finance, academia, new technologies, unions and environmental groups. The environment ministers of Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec, as well as representatives of the premiers of Alberta and New Brunswick, also attended.

Can you believe it? Elements of the emerging consensus of the meeting include the recognition that we must put a price on carbon emissions and we must eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Not bad!

Ontario also officially announced the adoption of a cap-and-trade system like Quebec and California. This means that 74% of Canadians (in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia) now have a greenhouse gas pricing system.

The blitz ended with the Quebec Climate Summit, at which the premiers of eight Canadian provinces and territories agreed that climate change is a threat and that we need to move towards a low-carbon society.

We still have a long way to go, but the mobilization of so many stakeholders within Canadian society (except, of course, the Harper government) gives me hope.