Quebec, Canada

Country: Canada

Population: 8.263.600

GDP per capita USD: 36.539


Québec is a province of Canada located in the northeast of North America. The largest of the Canadian provinces, it is ranked second in terms of population with almost 8.3 million inhabitants. It has exclusive jurisdiction in the spheres of education, health care, and local and municipal affairs. It has sole ownership of its natural resources. Québec also shares responsibilities with the federal government in areas such as the administration of justice, public security, land management, forestry, transportation, agriculture, immigration, natural resource management and the environment. Because of these extensive responsibilities, Québec has been very active in the fields of sustainable development, climate change and biodiversity.

Sustainable development

With the entry into force of its Sustainable Development Act in 2006, Québec adopted a new institutional framework to ensure greater coherence in the government’s actions regarding sustainable development. This Act establishes 16 principles of sustainable development, inspired by the Rio Declaration of 1992, which the government must take into account when implementing its decisions and policies. The Act also imposes an obligation on the government to follow and periodically renew sustainable development strategies, which provide broad orientations for governmental actions. The Act also provides for the development and implementation of Sustainable Development Action Plans by all Québec government ministries and agencies (involving more than 130 public organizations). Québec is almost half way through its second Sustainable Development Strategy, which covers the period 2015-2020.

Climate Change

Already the Canadian province with the lowest GHG emission rate per capita (10 tons in 2013), Quebec has a GHG emission reduction target of 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, and of 37.5% below 1990 by 2030. To reach these targets, Québec is implementing several policies and measures contained in its 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan. At the heart of this plan lies Québec’s cap-and-trade system which started its operations in 2013, and which was linked to California’s system in 2014, thereby creating the largest carbon market in North America under the auspices of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). It is also the only carbon market to have been designed, developed and operated by subnational governments of different countries. The neighbouring province of Ontario is scheduled to link its cap-and-trade system to the WCI carbon market in 2018. Auction revenues from the system’s sales of emission units are reinvested into programs and research notably aimed at increasing energy efficiency, promoting public transit and expanding the use of renewable energy.

Québec’s GHG emission reduction targets are particularly ambitious since almost 100 % of electricity produced in Québec already comes from renewable sources (mainly hydro, biomass, and wind). The high use of renewable energy is a tool for sustainable economic development in Quebec. Not only does it create a considerable amount of jobs, but it also has led to a number of agreements with local and native communities, hence increasing community development and stakeholder participation and engagement. In 2015 and 2016, Québec published its Transportation Electrification Action Plan 2015-2020 as well as its 2030 Energy Policy in order to build on its available and affordable clean energy to be a forerunner in the realm of electric mobility and renewable energy.

Quebec also invests a high amount of resources in promoting innovation, specifically on energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption. From 2009 to 2012, municipalities representing 79% of the population of Quebec, participated in the “Climat municipalités” program, which funded GHG emissions inventories and action plans to reduce those emissions or enhance community resilience towards climate change. A new version of the program is being developed. In 2012, Quebec has adopted a climate change adaptation strategy, which focuses on safeguarding the well-being of its population and communities, improving the safety and longevity of infrastructure, conserving biodiversity and the benefits of ecosystems, and continuing current economic activities.

Québec is aware that strong global cooperation is essential for meeting the climate challenge and is answering the call from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for increased funding to fight climate change in developing countries that are most vulnerable to its impacts. To that end, Québec launched the International Climate Cooperation Program that supports, through technology transfer and capacity building, cooperation projects between Québec’s academic, international cooperation and private sector communities on one hand, and designated Francophone countries on the other.


Québec also formally endorsed the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992, and is currently working to meet the objectives of the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. In October 2013, it published its Government Biological Diversity Guidelines as a first step to reaching the Aichi Targets. The new approach was the result of consultations between various government departments and civil society actors, and is based on the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable development, all of which considered fundamental and indivisible. These three issues are subdivided into seven major government guidelines, which are based on the twenty Aichi Targets, and enable action on all of its fronts. The guidelines constitute proactive tools for mainstreaming biodiversity in all government areas of endeavour.

Since then, Québec has continued its biodiversity efforts and numerous actions are currently under way. In particular, Québec has made ambitious commitments regarding protected areas in order to meet international targets. It is committed to protecting 17% of its land mass and interior fresh water areas by 2020, including protecting 20% of its territory located north of the 49th parallel, which accounts for nearly 1.2 million km2, as well as 10% of its marine areas. Biodiversity issues have also been incorporated into major government strategies like the 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan and Government Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, the 2015-2020 Government Sustainable Development Strategy, the Plan Nord for 2035, the Maritime Strategy for 2030, and the 2015 Sustainable Forest Management Strategy.


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