Here we are, at the start of a new year.
2020 taught us a lot. It changed our perspectives and our priorities and made us realize that deep and systemic change is possible. It’s in fact more than possible - it’s necessary.
Thanks to you, thanks to our wonderful community of members, supporters, partners, employees and volunteers, Équiterre was able to take advantage of this turbulent year to lay the foundation for a green, just and sustainable future.
Before we pursue our ambitious and crucial work in 2021, we’d like to proudly look back on what we accomplished in 2020 with you.
Towards a green and just recovery
At the beginning of the pandemic, Équiterre and our partners worked hard to ensure that no public funds would be invested in fossil fuel companies, but would rather be directed to support workers. This work continued in the months that followed through reports, mobilization and political advocacy, to encourage the various levels of government to design their economic recovery plans in such a way that they would help to build a sustainable, resilient future that is fair for everyone.
Towards climate accountability and carbon neutrality
Quebec and Canada have both pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. However, up until now, neither has managed to attain previously set targets. In order to reach current targets, Équiterre and our partners have been urging the government to enshrine their targets into law. In 2020, our collaborative efforts, supported by a recent report and submitted briefs, bore fruit: Canada enacted climate legislation and Quebec adopted a climate governance framework. Though not perfect, we will seek to help improve both of these legislative projects in 2021.
Towards the rejection of fossil fuel projects
Équiterre is very proud to have contributed to the unprecedented mobilization against the GNL Québec/Gazoduq fossil fuel project in 2020, in collaboration with other environmental organizations and community groups. With historic public participation in the BAPE consultations and over 110,000 signatures on our petition, there is clearly no social acceptability for this fossil project of a bygone era.
Several other fossil fuel projects were stopped in their tracks in 2020, including the Teck tar sands mine and the Vista coal mine project. Significant roadblocks included not only fervent environmental mobilization, but also financial issues - something that we’re seeing more and more frequently. Investors are increasingly realizing that fossil fuel projects are no longer profitable.
Towards sustainable mobility
Équiterre has always called for improved public transit and active transportation infrastructure, but for regions where a car is more difficult to avoid, we’ve been working to shift consumer choices towards zero emission vehicles. In 2020, we continued our work to encourage Quebecers to opt for an electric vehicle instead of a gas-powered car. We also urged the government to implement measures to facilitate school bus electrification and we encouraged governments to implement a feebate system to better promote sustainable mobility. The battle to get a tramway project on track in Quebec City also gained steam in 2020, and remains ongoing.
Towards healthy, sustainable and environmentally responsible food
Équiterre’s work over the past 20 years to encourage Quebec institutions to procure their food services with local, environmentally responsible food got a big boost in 2020 with the Quebec government’s announcement of a new Strategy for the Purchase of Quebec Food in Institutions. Beyond that, the 6th edition of Schools Take Root, one of Équiterre’s many educational projects on environmentally responsible food, was still able to take place in 43 schools and daycare centres in Quebec, adapted to the COVID-19 context. A great example of how resilient our campaigns and our communities can be!
Towards regenerative, sustainable agriculture
Food security and food sovereignty has been front and centre during the pandemic, and Équiterre’s work on regenerative agriculture took on even greater importance in light of the Quebec government’s new Sustainable Agriculture Plan. However, because our farmland continues to be threatened by rezoning efforts, we launched a petition calling for a moratorium on rezoning and calling on the government to be coherent in its decision-making processes with regards to our agricultural land. If Quebec farmers don’t have access to fertile, cultivable land, we cannot ensure our food security. It's that simple.
Towards improved waste management
2020 began with some good news about modernizing the deposit refund system and reforming the recycling system. Despite the pandemic and the resurgence of certain single use items, the Quebec government still plans to move ahead with these measures. Furthermore, in a move towards zero waste, Montreal put in place its 2020-2025 waste management plan.
Towards a greener more resilient society
Our keyword in 2020 was resilience. According to Équiterre, resilience is our ability to anticipate, adapt and regenerate. And that is what motivated, inspired and guided us through the trials and tribulations of 2020. From the need to adapt our youth consultation project to the realities of COVID-19, to our incredibly fulfilling and ongoing work on Équiterre’s new strategic direction, resilience was the lens through which we viewed our work in 2020 towards a brighter, greener and more just society.
My wish for 2021
As a society, it has come time to rethink the ties that bind us, as well as all of our interconnections with the environments in which we live. We know that we cannot keep doing things the way they have been done. Tomorrow must be done differently.
I’m very proud to lead Équiterre as we continue our essential work in 2021. We will develop solutions to contribute to the transformation of social norms and public policy; to steer our methods of production, consumption and transportation towards being low carbon and compatible with environmental and social justice.
My wish for 2021 is that we have the courage to work together toward this green, just and desirable future… and that we do it quickly.
Thank you for standing with us. For 2021, I wish you good health, happiness and, above all, confidence in your ability and our collective ability to effect change.