Can Quebec's agricultural sector reduce its reliance on fossil fuels? A new report from Equiterre and ÉcoRessources says yes.
Right now, Quebec's farmers are so dependent on fossil fuels that a price increase of just a penny per litre of fuel costs the industry an extra $3.8 million in fuel expenses and $4.9 million in fertilizer costs.
Farms were responsible for a whopping 2.7% of the the total fossil energy consumed in Quebec in 2010. And consumption is on the rise: the sector consumed about 140% more fossil energy in 2010 than in 1996.
Our agricultural sector depends heavily on the use of external inputs (fertilizer, pesticides, machinery) whose manufacture requires fossil fuels. As a result:
- The greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change continue to grow.
- Farms pay more for energy.
- Farms remain heavily dependent on imports, negatively affecting Quebec's trade balance.
To reverse this trend, Quebec's agricultural sector should:
- Go organic. This is one of the most effective ways to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, mainly by reducing or eliminating mineral fertilizers.
- Get energy efficient (in the field, in buildings).
- Support measures to encourage the transition to new methods of cultivation. The government needs to encourage the adoption of practices that reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.
- A long-term energy strategy for agriculture developed in consultation with local stakeholders that would help identify new patterns of production less dependent on fossil fuels.
- Measures to increase fuel prices, to encourage producers to adjust their operations to reduce their energy consumption.
* The report is in French only.
pdf - 20.51 mb Rapport Réduire la dépendance du secteur agricole québécois aux énergies fossilesSee document