Canada: Quebec 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan & Draft Amendments To Quebec GHG Regulations

On June 3, 2012, Quebec unveiled its " 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan" and the accompanying " Government Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation".

The new action plan and strategy intend for nearly $2.7 billion to be invested towards the government's climate change goals. Revenues to implement the plan, which is intended to be self-funded, are expected to come from the carbon market, as well as charges on fossil fuels and combustibles which have been extended until 2014.

The transport industry is estimated to account for 43% of all GHG emissions in Québec. As such, two-thirds of revenues from the action plan will fund transportation measures such as public and alternative transit, as well as inter-modality and energy efficiency in freight transport.

The plan also allocates $200 million to support efforts by businesses to reduce GHG emissions by, for example, investing in projects related to energy efficiency, process optimization and the installation of more eco-performing equipment. In addition, $40 million will be dedicated to support the development and marketing of new technologies, which will allow businesses not only to reduce their emissions, but also create a unique Quebec expertise.

The initiatives announced on June 3rd constitute the first phase of this open-ended 2013-2020 action plan. The second phase of the plan will be launched at midpoint in consideration of the revenue generated by the carbon market and the new policy directions adopted with respect to sustainable mobility, land-use planning and energy. The action plan will also evolve according to the development of climate science, new technologies and Québec's progress in the attainment of its objectives.

The implementation of the 2013-2020 action plan can be followed on the Web site, as well as on Twitter account @QuebecVert2020.

Another recent development towards Quebec's GHG reduction goals is the publication on June 8, 2012 in the Quebec Official Gazette of two draft regulations amending the Regulation respecting mandatory reporting of certain emissions of contaminants into the atmosphere and the Regulation respecting a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emission allowances, respectively.

Amendments to the Regulation respecting a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emission allowances are intended to link the Quebec system with the California system as well as those of future partners such as Ontario and British Columbia. To this end, it specifies system registration admissibility conditions and necessary documents, as well as the procedure regulating emission rights trading and auctions, and provides the conditions for the delivery of offset credits, including protocols regarding certain admissible projects. Finally, amendments were made to adjust the regulation further to the adoption of Bill 89, An Act to amend the Environment Quality Act in order to reinforce compliance, by providing for administrative penalties and greater penal sanctions.

The Regulation respecting mandatory reporting of certain emissions of contaminants into the atmosphere was also amended in order to complete the necessary harmonization with Western Climate Initiative (WCI) rules, notably, by adding declaration protocols. It provides, among other amendments, that the obligation to audit GHG emission declarations only applies to emitters subject to the GHG cap-and-trade system.

Starting in 2013, 34 GHG emission allowances cap-and-trade systems are expected to be functional around the globe. In Quebec, 2012 is a transition year during which entities subject to regulation will have an opportunity to become familiar with the system. The first carbon market compliance period will begin January 1st, 2013.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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