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The Province of Quebec

The Province of Quebec
8 million (2011 estimate)
C$303 billion (2009)
The Province of Quebec


GHG emissions (year): 81.8 million tons CO2e (2009) / 10.4 tons of CO2e per capita (2009). 83.9 million tons CO2e (1990 - baseline year). Difference between 2009 and 1990: - 2.5%. For more info on political and economic context, see below.

Quebec is one of Canada’s most dynamic regions, with a vibrant culture and strong, diverse economy based around the main population centres of Montreal and Quebec City. From the subarctic shore of Hudson’s Bay to the temperate borders with New England, the Quebec contains large variations in climate, topography and vegetation.

The rovince contains over 3% of the world’s fresh water reserves and is the leading generator of hydro power in North America, with over 36 gigawatts installed capacity accounting for 97% of consumption.

The province also has extensive expertise in the production, transmission and distribution of electric power, which it exports to clients around the world. It is developing other sources of renewable energy such as biomass, geothermal energy and solar generation. The Government has supported the creation of a new clean technology cluster, Écotech Québec.

The Québec Government seeks to use a 'clean industrial revolution' to drive job creation, business competitiveness and international presence. It has outlined its strategy in a report entitled For A Green and Prosperous Quebec.

The Government has pledged a 20% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels. It intends to achieve its target by promoting public transit, electric vehicles and intermodal freight transport. The plan also calls for the increased use of wood as a building material, energy recovery from biomass, and land use planning reform. According to simulations conducted by Quebec's Ministry of Finance, the strategies will impact the Province's real GDP by only 0.16% in 2020.

Plan Nord is a C$80 billion, 25 year plan for the sustainable development of Northern Québec, intended to be showcase of sustainable development in construction, energy production, mineral extraction, agriculture and transport. At the same time, it will create a network of protected areas for wildlife conservation to cover 15% of the province’s area. This structure will enable the Province to take advantage of its rich natural wealth and opening of the Northwest Passage while minimizing the environmental impact of new development.

Current Activities

Energy efficiency

Programs totaling CAD$165 million have led to reductions equivalent to 1 megatons of carbon dioxide by encouraging conversion to natural gas or biomass from heavy fuel oil, by improving the efficiency of existing systems, and by reducing light fuel use in industrial and domestic contexts.

A new Building Code in place from 2009 requires new buildings and homes built in Québec to pass energy efficiency standards. The Government has also reduced emissions from public buildings by 34% from 1990 levels through efficiency measures, particularly in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

Québec has targeted an increase of energy efficiency for public buildings of 10-14% above 2003 levels by 2012 and a 20% reduction in fuel consumption in government buildings.

The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) cap and trade system, which is scheduled to be implemented fully in January 2013, should at least allow industrial GHG emissions to stabilize at their current level by 2020 which, according to the 2009 inventory, is already at 25.1% below the 1990 level. A financial assistance program for conducting analysis and for implementing energy efficiency measures with respect to target fuels such as light fuel oil and propane will assist this.

Renewable energy

96% of Québec’s electricity comes from hydro power. Despite this, the province has a number of energy targets which will help it in its drive for a clean revolution. By 2015, it has committed to achieving:

  • 4,500MW of hydro power
  • 4,000MW of wind power
  • 11 TWh of energy efficiency compared to BAU
  • 350 million cubic meters of natural gas savings compared to BAU
  • CAD$10 million per year for development of emerging renewable energies and energy efficiency
  • 2 million tons of oil equivalent

The Plan Nord contains a C$25 billion investment in new hydro and wind power. This will allow the province profit from renewable energy exports to its neighbors.
Québec has also invested C$100 million to support bio-energy. By 2012, gasoline distributors will be required to include 5% of second generation, cellulose-based ethanol in their overall fuel sales.

Clean transport

Transportation is the main cause of emissions in Québec, contributing 44% of the province’s absolute GHG output. The government aims to improve mass transit service, increasing ridership by 8% across by 2012 in urban and rural areas with a C$4.5 billion investment. In 2010, public transit ridership in Quebec had already increased by 7% compared to 2006.

The Government invested CAD$105 million to improve emissions in maritime, rail and road freight transport. To improve fuel efficiency, the maximum speed for heavy goods vehicles has been capped at 105 kilometers per hour.

Québec has adopted emission standards for light duty vehicles equivalent to those of California, in effect from 2010, and offers tax credits upon purchase of a hybrid or electric vehicle.

In partnership with car manufacturers including Mitsubish, Renault-Nissan, Ford and Toyota, the Government is running trials of electric vehicles to develop efficient infrastructure models and charging schemes.

The 2011 Action Plan for Electric Vehicles targets 25% of all new light duty vehicles sold in Quebec to be electric or hybrid rechargeable by 2020. As of January 2012, Québec tax credits for the acquisition or lease of new fuel-efficient vehicles have been replaced by rebates of up to $8,000 at the time of purchase or lease of a hybrid or electric vehicle (EV). Subsidies of up to $1,000 have also been earmarked for the purchase and installation of home charging stations. 

Sustainable land use

Québec has committed to planting 100 million trees through as part of the 1 billion tree initiative. In addition to this, a C$24 million fund helps farm operators install biogas electricity systems and update agricultural heating equipment. These steps will reduce carbon emissions by 300kt per year.

Waste management

Since 2006 regulations have been in place to control biogas emissions at large landfill sites (50,000 tons and more), and these are estimated to prevent 500kt carbon emissions by 2012. For smaller sites the Government’s Biogaz program funds the installation of equipment for the capture and elimination (valorization) of biogas.

Since 2010, the ultimate residue is the only material accepted in landfill sites. 70% of the paper, glass and plastic, 60% of the organic waste, 80% of the cement, bricks and asphalt and 70% of construction waste has to be recycled in order to limit the landfill material to 700kg per person per year. The province has targeted the elimination of organic matter in waste disposal by 2020.

International collaboration

Québec has been internationally active in brokering environmental agreements for many decades. The Montreal Protocol, which protected the ozone layer by phasing out CFCs, was signed here in 1987. In 2005, the government co-convened a series of summits on climate change, including, with The Climate Group, the Montreal Climate Leaders Summit.

Today, Québec is a member of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). WCI cap and trade system scheduled to be implemented fully in Quebec starting January 1, 2013. On that date, industrial and power facilities emitting 25 kt of CO2e a year will be covered by the system. A second phase starting in 2015, the system will be expanded to include transportation fuels and residential, commercial and industrial fuels not otherwise covered in the first phase.

Smart cities

Hydro Québec, the government utility, has introduced smart meters for domestic use in three cities with a CAD$100 million investment expected to save over C$300 million over the next 20 years.

More info

Devolved powers and competencies relevant to climate and energy

According to the Canadian constitution, provinces have the sole responsibility over natural resources and have exclusive jurisdiction over their management, development and conservation. The same is true regarding all sources of energy derived from those resources, their production and development. In fact, provinces are responsible for all the climate actions derived from energy and natural resources.

The Canadian constitution is silent with respect to the environment, so jurisdiction in that field follows the respective separation of powers between the two levels of government. Consequently, provinces are the dominant players with respect to the environment.

The federal government can enact laws on environmental issues that cross provincial and territorial boundaries or are extra territorial in nature. This means that the federal government could enact a Canadian cap and trade system for GHG emissions if it wished to do so. As was the case with the Kyoto Protocol and as would be the case with its eventual successor, provinces are responsible for implementing these accords in areas where the constitution has granted them exclusive jurisdiction, and the federal government cannot force their hands in that regard.

Last, provinces have the constitutional authority to adopt higher environmental standards than the federal government if they wish to do so. The 2009 regional cap and trade system legislated by the Quebec National Assembly is a case in point.

Most important economic sectors

Finance, insurance, real estate, business management and manufacturing are the major economic sectors in the Province. Health, the public sector, retail and construction also play significant roles.

Source : Institut de la statistique du Québec, Le Québec chiffres en main, 2012 edition.

GHG breakdown by sector - in 2009 (most recent GHG inventory):

Power 0.75%
Transport 43.49%
Buildings 13.96%
Industry 28.03%
Agriculture/forestry 7.89%
Waste 5.87%

Current power sector mix - in 2009:

Coal 0%
Gas 0.14%
Nuclear 1.91%
Wind 0.57%










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