Montreal, the most sustainable city in the world?
[Rankings kind,] you have to take them with a grain of salt.
Jean-Michel Champagne, expert in sustainable development at HEC
Already, the evaluation of energy consumption as a criterion of sustainability is problematic on a certain level. “No energy is perfect; the best energy is that which we do not consume, says Mr. Champagne. In the ranking, Tokyo has 0% renewable energy consumption, but it’s yet a very clean and energy efficient city compared to Montreal.”
Thus, when we look at “consumption per capita”, Montreal would do very poorly in the world, according to the expert, who also recalls that if the energy consumed by Montreal is renewable, it’s because of the provincial infrastructures. which are based on hydroelectricity.
A problematic measure
If public authorities can have an impact on air quality, such as Montreal which imposes “severe anti-pollution controls”, part of it remains difficult to control, recalls Mr. Champagne.
Thus , Montreal has the “geographical advantage” of being in a territory where pollution disperses more easily. “Mexico City, which is one of the most polluted cities in the world, is so in particular because it is located in a basin in the mountains, where the particles remain trapped”, believes Mr. Champagne.
< p>By putting Montreal at the top of the ranking, we “wrongly imply that it is better than another,” laments the expert. The problem, according to him, is that we do not take into account the fact that since Montreal is a “service industry and not production, our pollution is made elsewhere”. On the other hand, Mexico City would be more polluted, among other things, because “its industry is one of production”. The goods produced there are resold elsewhere, such as in Montreal.
“We could not use this ranking to congratulate public authorities; it is not a question of choice”, concludes the researcher in sustainable development.