Will the post-pandemic recovery make the climate crisis worse?
Quebec risks aggravating the climate crisis with its post-pandemic economic recovery, in addition to increasing social inequalities, believes the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information (IRIS). The institute advocates for a change of habits in government.
As the tabling of the provincial budget approaches, IRIS has unveiled five socio-economic fact sheets concerning the recovery of the economy. These sheets warn the government against a “return to normal” that would not take into account the climate and inequalities.
“A return to normal without a radical change in our ways of doing things involves great risks, warns IRIS researcher Guillaume Hébert. In its next budget, the Legault government must respond vigorously to the climate crisis and the increase in inequalities in Quebec.”
The government must renew its way of intervening in the economy to ensure a better response to future crises, believes Mr. Hébert. The Legault administration has frequently confessed its desire to return to balanced budgets quickly after the pandemic to reduce the weight of Quebec's debt. However, IRIS advises against the use of austerity which has “had deleterious effects on the staff, the quality and the accessibility of public services”, particularly in the field of health.
Despite the pandemic, Quebec’s public finances are in an enviable position and in no way justify the application of austerity policies
“Quebec is struggling to achieve its environmental objectives, which are nevertheless not very ambitious”, states IRIS. Rather than “devitalizing” the regions, which host the most polluting industries, the state “should promote industries, such as energy efficiency and public transport, capable of generating jobs compatible with our environmental objectives”. /p>
“To make this type of transition, the government must now provide the funds to be able to finance the reorientation or early retirement of employees working in polluting sectors, encourage the diversification of regional economies where there are these industries and facilitate investments in sectors that reduce the carbon footprint of the Quebec population,” the report explains.
If nothing is done, many workers in more polluting industries could lose their jobs in the coming years, warns IRIS.
In addition to IRIS, the Chair of Energy Sector Management at HEC Montreal believes that the Legault administration will miss its climate targets. “It is an acknowledgment of failure for the environmental strategy of François Legault”, denounces Québec solidaire. The party proposes to stop the sale of petrol vehicles in 2030 rather than in 2035, and to ban advertisements of polluting vehicles.
QS's greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target is the highest of any party, set at 55%. “The climate battle is the battle of our century,” says chef Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. We won't win it with wishful thinking. That’s why Quebec solidaire will continue to hound François Legault, so that he has the ambition that Quebec should have in the fight against climate change.
The Liberals believe that he’ we must offer incentives to citizens and businesses to encourage them to promote green habits. The party is proposing an environmental shift with Éco, a project aimed at deploying and supporting $100 billion in investments in the development of green hydrogen.
The environment will be “an important electoral issue”, predicts PQ leader Paul St-Pierre-Plamondon, especially because “the CAQ will have demonstrated on several occasions that it is not interested “. The PQ wants to reduce GHG emissions in the province by 45%.
Environment Minister Benoit Charette did not respond to Métro’s interview request.