The most recent report by the committee of experts responsible for advising the government on climate change includes excellent recommendations aimed, among other things, at reducing global warming. These recommendations are excellent, but will not help the climate situation in any way.

Quebec emits the equivalent of 85 megatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere annually. Globally, just under 50,000 megatons are emitted, half of which comes from China, the United States, India and Russia. Quebec could reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero that we would not notice. Quebec is thus making two mistakes in managing the global climate crisis, regardless of the fact that its environmental policies are too soft: 1) asking the poor to pay for the rich, and 2) the debate on carbon emissions. GES is too political.

Quebec is poor; if Quebec were an American state, only the GDP per capita of Mississippi would be lower. However, we would like to put in place policies that reduce our wealth to increase that of our southern neighbors, who are much more exposed to climate risks; it’s ridiculous. In what sort of dystopian social democracy would we want the poor to pay for the rich? It is not by reducing our relative wealth that we will come to convince China, the United States, India and Russia of the merits of good climate management.

The debate is too political and politicized, especially when it is unnecessary. Let us give greater leverage to the structural changes that the United States, among others, will one day be able to bring to its climate policies by systematically adopting all the policies that the United States Congress will apply in this direction. It’s no use playing alone.

Environmental policies are too soft everywhere on the planet. Even though it has long been known that we should put a price on GHG emissions, no politician is willing to lose an election to do so, especially not if the overall impact would be essentially zero. However, it would be so easy to create a global system of GHG emission rights… provided that this cost is the same for everyone on the planet, without exception, as for oil and gold. Isn’t a ton of carbon a ton of carbon, regardless of its source?

Quebec must therefore position itself aggressively to take advantage of the radical changes that will occur in the United States, China, India, Russia and Europe over the next 25 years. Why not take advantage of Quebec’s ability to generate hydroelectricity to power neighboring states? Do we in Quebec really have a competitive advantage in generating electricity from wind turbines? Isn’t hydroelectricity an incredible potential source of wealth for First Nations who have long demanded fair compensation for the use of their ancestral territories? Can you really imagine a better societal project than one that increases collective wealth, righting historical wrongs, limiting growth in the use of fossil fuels, and reducing GHG emissions across America?

The question we must collectively ask ourselves is not whether reducing GHG emissions is a planetary necessity, it is. Rather, the question is: as long as the Chinese, Americans, Indians and Russians refuse to establish a system that will lead to a reduction in GHG emissions on a planetary scale, why should Quebec sacrifice its collective wealth when that the net planetary environmental impact will be zero?


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