As Director of a high-performing team of determined, dynamic and expert policy analysts, I can tell you frankly that Équiterre is quite a force in advancing environmental public policy.
Here’s what we have in our scope for 2024:
At the provincial level
1. Public transit is one of the top two issues we’ll be working on this year. In 2023, the government reduced funding for transport operators, and as a result, we’re seeing packed metro cars, slower service and cancellations on certain bus routes. Transport operators are receiving minimal financing with which to provide services to the public, while billions are being given to companies that are making record profits.
Energy and industrial development
2. The second big issue that will keep us busy this year is energy and industrial development. We can no longer tolerate decisions about battery plants being made behind closed doors by two or three people. It’s time that we insert a little democracy into the decision making process. It’s time that politicians stop concealing information. It’s time that they stop amending regulations to satisfy the growing appetite of certain ministers and industry players, while citizens are left wondering what type of crumbs they’ll end up with in this energy transition.
3. We will be mobilizing against elected officials who want to replace our agricultural land with factories or housing. We will work to achieve true food autonomy for Quebecers throughout the province.
4. Just because the government has halted new public transit projects doesn’t mean we have to step back and accept it. We’re going to resuscitate projects for Quebec City and those for Eastern Montreal. They are too important for the future of our cities. The government thinks it can buy time by proposing the creation of a new transit agency, but we want something concrete. We will also help support the emergence of regional transportation networks to meet local needs, such as the Régie de transport du Bas-Saint-Laurent.
Adaptation to climate change
5. The government is starting to realize that it can no longer sit idly by while climate change worsens, because the cost of inaction is only increasing. We’ll be working hard to finally get a Quebec adaptation strategy to better prepare and protect our communities. This doesn’t mean we’re giving up on climate change mitigation. On the contrary, it means doing a better job protecting our ecosystems and biodiversity. It means recreating the natural spaces that we’ve lost to urbanization.
At the federal level
1. A host of regulatory measures are being prepared, which will be pivotal to the success or failure of our efforts to fight climate change and protect the environment.
- In 2024, we’ll see the introduction of the federal zero-emissions vehicle standard. The standards that are already in place in Quebec and British Columbia are working, but the conservative provinces out west are voicing opposition, amplifying the auto industry’s arguments.
- We’re working toward passage of the regulations to cap oil and gas emissions. This is one of the most important regulatory measures to limit the impacts of oil sands development, but it is (of course) opposed by the oil and gas industry, Alberta and Saskatchewan (who are sometimes indistinguishable).
- We’ll be working for other regulations as well, including those on clean electricity, encouraging certain provinces to stop producing electricity from non-renewable sources. And here again, some of the provinces are opposed on purely ideological grounds.
2. In Ottawa, putting a price on pollution (carbon pricing) continues to be threatened by the pressure tactics of the Conservative opposition, with their false promises of putting large sums of money back into taxpayers’ pockets. Meanwhile, our farmers will continue to bear the brunt of extreme climate events, which will result in price increases at the grocery store, and insurance premiums will continue to increase because of forest fires and floods.
A just transition
3. We’re working to get legislation on sustainable jobs passed to ensure that the current government and its successors assume their responsibilities for the transition of the labour market and communities around the country. We must focus on the jobs of the future, while protecting Canadians whose livelihoods are threatened by the climate crisis.
Long distance public transportation
4. With the help of our supporters, we will push for the passage of Bill C-371, which will require railway companies to give priority to passenger rail service. In 2024, it’s not right that moving freight still takes precedence over moving people. This passenger service could be a gold mine for reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector and reducing our reliance on air travel for certain distances.
5. The reform of Canada’s Competition Act allows us to tackle the ever-growing phenomenon of greenwashing. Companies are touting green and carbon-neutral products, but if we dig a little deeper we realize that what they’re selling us is often not quite as green as they claim.
Stay tuned: the year is just getting started!
Public participation is essential to environmental protectionTell the government