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Quebec finally legally protected against the fossil fuel industry

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Québec, Montréal, Gaspé, April 12, 2022 - Citizen, environmental, student and health groups want to highlight one of the most significant environmental victories in Quebec's history, the adoption of Bill 21, An Act mainly to end petroleum exploration and production and the public financing of those activities. Quebec thus became the first state in the world to ban oil and gas development on its territory. This victory is the result of decades of hard work by numerous environmental, citizen, student, and health groups, but would not have been possible without the will of political parties.

"By becoming the first state to ban oil and gas development on its territory, Quebec is paving the way for other states around the world and encouraging them to do the same. However, it is important that the political will that made this law possible be translated into GHG reductions in the province, since Quebec and Canada have done too little to reduce their GHGs over the past 30 years," explain the groups signing the press release.

Although the groups consider and reiterate that oil and gas companies do not deserve compensation provided for by law, they wish to congratulate parties in the National Assembly for their committee work. Before reaching this point, it was a long struggle against the fossil fuel industry and some political parties in power. Tens of thousands of volunteer hours were devoted to protecting Quebec's natural resources, the health of its population and to leave a livable future for next generations.

Among the citizen work against fossil fuel extraction, the groups would like to highlight the fights against shale gas in the St. Lawrence Valley, against oil in Anticosti, against the Old Harry project in the Gulf or against oil projects in Gaspésie. Press release signatories wish to congratulate and thank a multitude of groups and individuals who have contributed to the end of fossil fuel extraction in Quebec. Among them, many scientists have played a fundamental role in understanding the impacts of this industry, denouncing them, and making them known to the population.

Since 2011, several petitions or declarations gathering impressive numbers of people have been written to oppose fossil fuels in Quebec, including:

  • Manifest for Global movement - 42 000 people

  • Pact for transition - 286 000 people

  • No to drilling - 32 000 people

Quotes :

"The search for oil and gas is over, but we still have to deal with the legacy of these companies. Although the oil and gas industry did not flourish in Quebec, it left behind nearly a thousand wells that will have to be repaired, plugged, decontaminated and monitored in perpetuity. We now expect as much enthusiasm in the completion of these operations as in the adoption of Bill 21," explains Pascal Bergeron, spokesperson for Environnement Vert Plus.

"Hats off to the citizens who have tirelessly put up an insurmountable social wall against the oil and gas industry. We owe them this immense victory. Congratulations also to the Quebec government, whose commitment to getting Quebec out of fossil fuels is still to be seen. The climate emergency no longer leaves room for inconsistencies," says Carole Dupuis, UNEplanet eco-citizen movement and former general coordinator of the Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec (RVHQ)

"The compensation offered to polluters is too generous. Nevertheless, Quebec can be proud of this victory, which is above all a victory for citizen involvement. Despite this good news, Quebec is still far from reaching its GHG reduction objectives and will therefore have to do more. It will also have to show much more consistency, for example by abandoning the third link project, which is in flagrant contradiction with the action set out in this law," declares Jacques Tétreault, former general coordinator of the Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec (RVHQ) and member of the Comité des citoyens et citoyennes pour la protection de l'environnement maskoutain.

"This colossal victory allows us to turn a major page in the history of fossil fuels. It is above all a victory for the collective intelligence of civil society. It is an unprecedented gain for biodiversity that sends a message to the whole world. In Quebec, we have chosen the common good, the preservation of the planet. It is now up to us to continue our work as guardians of the territory so that this industry assumes its liabilities and also to seize this opportunity to increase the number of protected areas," says Martin Poirier, co-founder of Non à une marée noire dans le Saint-Laurent.

"Since 2010, citizens and scientists have worked together to demonstrate the absurdity of considering Quebec as a land of hydrocarbons. From the urgency of doing, we are now in the urgency of not doing," says Marc Brullemans, a citizen who participated in the founding of the interregional shale gas group in the St. Lawrence Valley and a member of the Collectif scientifique sur les enjeux énergétiques au Québec.

"This is a great conclusion to a long and difficult saga. Congratulations to all the environmentalists and citizens who contributed to this great success. As early as 2008, the AQLPA had launched the call for a general mobilization against the exploration and exploitation of shale gas, we had demanded and obtained in 2010 a moratorium on shale gas in Quebec, asked for and obtained a BAPE in addition to having initiated a solid citizen mobilization by forming the first of the 140 citizen committees in St-Marc sur le Richelieu...hope lies in action," declares André Bélisle, president of the Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA)

"The adoption of Bill 21 is a historic moment for Quebec and the health of its population. By putting an end to hydrocarbon exploration and production in Quebec, we have collectively decided to give next generations a sustainable future. The WHO Special Report on Climate Change and Health states that "burning fossil fuels is killing us". Climate change is the greatest health threat facing humanity. Period! I invite decision-makers around the world to follow our example and put an end to an industry that is costing us dearly, that is costing us our lives," says Dr. Claudel Pétrin-Desrosiers, President of the Quebec Association of Physicians for the Environment

“In adopting this bill today, Quebec sends a major signal to Canada and the world : the future must be fossil free. While we are thrilled with this new law, we would've been ecstatic had the government not given into the industry's soapy claims and gifted them indemnities. This said, as a member of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, Quebec's government should now further lead the way by helping jurisdictions, provinces and other states follow its footsteps. We also hope this move by Quebec inspires others within Canada.” adds Émile Boisseau-Bouvier, climate policy analyst at Équiterre

"This accomplishment rewards long years of struggle. It brings great satisfaction to the groups and individuals who joined it. This victory builds momentum for important next steps, including the urgent shift away from burning fossil fuels," said Jacques Rousseau, Secretary General, Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec.

"Yes, we are right to highlight the historic gesture of the adoption of Bill 21 by the National Assembly, which prohibits the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Quebec. We also owe this victory to the incredible commitment of numerous citizen and environmental groups that are well represented on the Gaspé Peninsula," said Carol Saucier, spokesperson for Solidarité Gaspésie.

"After decades of mobilization, Quebec has brought an end to fossil fuel exploration and development projects on its territory. This is a historic victory for Quebec's ecosystems and population. With the adoption of Bill 21, the Quebec government is showing that it is possible to take swift action on the climate emergency, in line with climate science. However, the work is far from over, as our GHG emissions are still increasing. The government needs to align all economic policies according to the IPCC's recommendations and prioritize the achievement and enhancement of its GHG reduction targets," says Charles Bonhomme, public affairs specialist at the David Suzuki Foundation.

"This victory marks the end of one of the most important fights for water protection in Quebec. We are pleased that hydrogeological studies will be carried out for the wells included in bill 21, the impacts of this industry on our water will finally be known. But the government's work is far from over - it must now guarantee that the wells will be safe and pose no danger to drinking water in the long term, without which, there can be no compensations!" highlights Rébecca Pétrin, executive director at Eau Secours.

"Today, Quebec is sending a strong message to the international community: yes, it is possible to give up its fossil fuel reserves for the sake of future generations. This is a historic moment after 15 years of relentless struggle that proves one thing: the only battles we are sure to lose are the ones we do not fight. We must never give up! Mobilisation works. Now, together, let's roll up our sleeves, because the next step has yet to be written for a fossil-free future," says Anne-Céline Guyon, Climate Project Officer for Nature Québec.

"As Canada ramps up oil production, Quebec is leading the way into the economy of the future. This decision - a world first - offers a refreshing insight into the incompatibility of oil and gas development with a safe and sustainable future. The efforts of thousands of citizens over the past 15 years that led to this historic decision reiterate what the most recent IPCC report says: the involvement of civil society, local communities and Indigenous Peoples is a key driver of government climate decisions," declares Caroline Brouillette, National Policy Director, Climate Action Network Canada.

"Other provinces and states must be inspired by this law adopted by Quebec and apply the recommendations dictated by science. We can no longer exploit new oil and gas deposits if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 C and avoid the aggravation of extreme climate phenomena. This victory shows that through popular mobilization and political will, it is possible to make a positive difference. However, the Legault government must go much further and drastically reduce GHGs in Quebec, as it is on track to completely miss its 2030 target, which is not ambitious enough in light of scientific requirements," says Patrick Bonin, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada.

"The sector that contributes the most to the climate crisis in this country is the fossil fuel industry. The end of this industry in Quebec is therefore a historic victory for Quebec society and the student movement, which has fought hard for this. However, we have barely three years left to avoid a point of no return as regards global warming. The fight must absolutely continue and intensify," says Simon Guiroy, spokesperson for the student coalition "Arrêtons GNL" (Student Climate Action Front).

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Media Contacts:

Pascal Bergeron, Spokesperson, Environnement Vert Plus

(581) 886.1189 ;

Jacques Tétreault, Ex-General Coordinator for the Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec (RVHQ) and Member of the Comité des citoyens et citoyennes pour la protection de l’environnement maskoutain

(450) 261-6151;

Carole Dupuis, Eco-citizen movement UNEplanète and Ex-General Coordinator of the Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec (RVHQ)

(438) 884-8200;

Anthony Côté Leduc, Media Relations, Équiterre

(514) 605-2000 ;

Gabriel Marquis, Head of Communications, Nature Québec

(581) 307-8613 ;

Pamela Daoust, Communications Director

Association québécoise des médecins pour l’environnement (AQME)

(514) 267-2589 ;

Laura Bergamo, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Canada
(438) 928-5237;

Mathieu Langlois, Head of Communications, Eau Secours
(514) 588-5608 ;

Charles Bonhomme, Public Affairs Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation

(438) 883-8348 ;

Carol Saucier, Spokesperson, Solidarité Gaspésie,

(418) 368-4380 ;

Simon Guiroy, Coordinator and Spokesperson, Coalition étudiante «Arrêtons GNL» (Front étudiant d’action climatique)

(514) 730-7945 ;

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