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It’s budget time: Équiterre calling for the climate to be at the centre of the federal and provincial budgets

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To limit the impacts of the climate crisis, 2020 will be a pivotal year for both Quebec and Canada. It marks the beginning of a decade of transition, which must culminate in 2030 with a halving of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The challenges are significant, and so too are the investments required to address them.

Both the Quebec and the federal GHG reduction targets currently in place are insufficient. As stated by IPCC scientists, to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, all aspects of society must see rapid, radical and unprecedented change. To get our planet back on the right track, it is essential that we have budgets that prioritize the environment and fund the necessary strategies.

During the month of March, both levels of government will be presenting their new budgets. To ensure that they adequately address the climate crisis and that sufficient funds are allocated to realize the climate ambition demanded by citizens, Équiterre got involved in the preparation processes, with our public policy team tabling and presenting recommendations during the federal and provincial pre-budget consultations. Among the topics: transportation, agriculture, fossil fuel subsidies and the energy transition. Here is an overview of our demands:

Accelerate carbon emission reductions in public and individual transportation

Transportation accounts for 43% of GHG emissions in Quebec and 24% in Canada. Strategies to support and encourage the electrification of public transportation and individual transportation can go a long way towards diminishing the sector’s environmental impact. To take it even further, initiatives that foster sound land-use planning and responsible consumption could also lessen our transportation needs and thus contribute significantly to reducing transportation emissions.

Transform fossil fuel subsidies into forward-looking projects

Budget allocations must be coherent with the transition toward more environmentally-friendly alternatives. However, both Canada and Quebec continue to subsidize fossil fuel production and consumption. Eliminating these subsidies would not only help do away with hydrocarbons and thus reduce GHG emissions, but would also free up these public funds for investment in forward-looking projects.

Assist our farmers with soil regeneration and protection and help them reduce the agriculture sector’s carbon footprint

Strategies to enhance soil and keep it healthy are among the best ways to reduce GHG emissions from farming and to make farms more resilient. Agricultural producers are among the first to feel the increasingly powerful effects of climate change. They need support and encouragement in their efforts to make their operations more resilient and sustainable.

Prepare society for the energy transition with a just transition plan

Governments must encourage discussion forums across various regions of the province and the country to create a national dialogue on what a carbon-free future might look like. Fossil fuel jobs are affected not only by the energy transition necessitated by climate change, but also by the uncertainty surrounding the price of a Canadian barrel of oil and by the automation of jobs in the sector. It is therefore important to adopt a just transition plan to ensure that all segments of society are prepared for the costs and benefits of the changes that will be brought about by the energy transition.

We can no longer put off our obligations and responsibilities.

2020 is the year to take action and to make the right choices to become environmental leaders. Provincial and federal budget strategies and investments for the year to come must reflect the current climate crisis.

Équiterre will be following the budget announcements and will continue working to ensure that the climate crisis factors into all government decision making.

»» You have a role to play!

Several Canadian environmental groups have prepared an email containing key environmental demands for the 2020 federal budget, which you can to send to the government. If the government does not plan the necessary funds for the climate and the environment in budget 2020, the money won’t be there for future requests for environmental measures throughout the year. Click here to see the email »»