The political parties that aspire to lead Quebec after the next elections must show “courage” in the fight against the climate crisis and quickly put an end to the use of fossil fuels. This is the message launched this Friday by a few thousand demonstrators gathered in Montreal, in the heart of the electoral campaign.
“All parties need to do more. We expect them all to have the courage to tackle the heart of the problem. We must accept the fact that if we want to move towards a carbon neutral world, as required by climate science to limit warming to a viable threshold, we will have to live in a world that will have completely weaned itself off oil and gas in Quebec. “, Argued François Geoffroy, one of the spokespersons of the coalition which organizes this mobilization.
Some 146,000 students and 15,000 workers went on a one-day strike during this mobilization, which is part of the international “Fridays for Future” movement. They demand the end of the use of oil and natural gas in Quebec by 2030 and more investment in social programs, in support of citizens “vulnerable” to the impacts of the climate crisis.
“It’s an extremely ambitious request,” admitted Mr. Geoffroy. “But the alternative is too scary to imagine. Yes, the changes will be difficult, but the alternative will be dreadful. We have seen it here with tornadoes, when we are only at the beginning. Things are not going to get better. »
Environment Minister Benoit Charrette tried to hold a press scrum on the sidelines of the event, accompanied in particular by his colleagues Pierre Fitzgibbon and Chantal Rouleau. But when he tried to praise the climate record of the Coalition avenir Québec, he was interrupted by demonstrators who harshly criticized the Legault government.
“Engage or get out,” repeated demonstrators, as the minister moved towards the starting point of the march, surrounded by several bodyguards and police officers from the Montreal Police Department. One of the agents moreover bluntly rejected one of the spokespersons for the mobilization who called out to the minister and asked him if he endorsed their demands.
Minister Benoit Charette finally left the scene before the demonstration even started, being booed. Before his departure, he did not want to say if he endorsed the demands of the demonstrators, emphasizing rather that the positions of the caquistes “Join” those defended by the demonstrators.
For the students, who represented the vast majority of the demonstrators present at the start of the demonstration, at the foot of Mount Royal, governments are still not listening to their message, despite several demonstrations with a climate flavor in recent years.
“We are studying to live in a world that will be profoundly transformed by the climate crisis. It’s an intergenerational injustice and it’s a way of talking to young people. But what do the parties actually do? That’s what we want to see,” argued Amélie Beaulé, a student at Cégep Saint-Laurent.
“We don’t have time to wait. It has to be a priority for the next government,” argued Véronique Laflamme, spokesperson for the Front d’action populaire en réorganisation urbaine. “Wealth needs to be taxed to reinvest in social and public programs. It is necessary to tackle social inequalities, which are likely to increase with the climate crisis,” she added.
“Today’s mobilization marks a return of young people to the streets and reminds us that their future is non-negotiable as the climate crisis hits harder and harder and does not spare Quebec, as the impending arrival of Hurricane Fiona. The population of Quebec is one of the most mobilized in the world and is ready to go much further than what governments have proposed to date,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Patrick Bonin.
For the moment, Quebec is far from doing what is necessary to fight the climate crisis and prepare for its impacts. The fleet of gasoline-powered personal vehicles continues to grow, mainly based on larger vehicles, and Quebecers consume approximately 360,000 barrels of oil daily, or more than 130 million barrels per year.
With regard to greenhouse gas emissions, they have fallen by barely 2.7% since 1990, according to the most recent report available, that of 2019. And even if the Legault government has often argued While Quebec’s per capita emissions are the lowest in North America, they still amount to 9.9 tonnes per capita. This is more than double the world average. Climate experts also believe that to meet the most ambitious objective of the Paris Agreement, which is to limit climate change to +1.5°C, it should be capped at two tonnes, at most.
As a result of our dependence on fossil fuels, the Earth’s average temperature has already risen by an average of 1.2°C since the pre-industrial era. However, this warming is sufficient to quickly lead us to five so-called “tipping points”, i.e. critical thresholds beyond which phenomena become irreversible, according to a study published at the beginning of September in the renowned journal Science.
Warming could reach 3°C over the next few decades, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said earlier. Such a scenario would make the world “unrecognizable”, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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