Quebec - The cap-and-trade system at the heart of the strategy

Territorial assessment of climate action


Association Climate Chance (Climate Chance)

Since 2015, the Climate Chance Association has been involved in the mobilization in the fight against climate change. It is the only international association that proposes to bring together on an equal footing all non-state actors recognized by the UN. In order to strengthen their action and to give credibility to the climate stabilization scenarios, the Climate Chance Association launched in 2018 a Global Observatory of Non-State Climate Action, which aims to explain the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions, by crossing national public policies, with sectoral dynamics, private actors’ strategies, local public policies and actions undertaken by local actors. In order to analyse the coherence of local public policies, Climat Chance proposes an assessment of « territorial mobilisations » through selected examples of cities and regions. Here, the case of Quebec.

In 2013, Quebec adopted its new 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), which should lead to a 20% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020. This plan is governed by biannual assessments. The first three years of implementation of the CCAP will have reduced emissions by 1.4 Mt CO2eq/year. In 2015, when the plan was revised, additional investments of $66 million were announced, as well as the implementation of actions aimed at the French-speaking countries most vulnerable to climate change - $25.5 million, mainly in Africa.97% of Québec’s electricity mix is hydroelectricity, so the sectors mainly concerned by the CSAP are transportation, industry and buildings. In 2009, they accounted for 43.5%, 28% and 14% of GHG emissions, respectively. The numerous efforts made since 2006 have resulted in one of the best per capita emission balances in North America, with 10 tCO2eq/capita/year.


As early as 2007, Quebec introduced a tax on fossil fuels, before introducing in 2013 the «  SPDE  » emissions quota system, coupled with the State of California’s (WCI) carbon quota system. It concerns companies emitting more than 25,000 tCO2eq/year. For the first period 2013-2014, it imposed an emissions cap on the industrial and electricity sectors alone. 100% of the companies subject to the SPDE met their obligations by paying an emission charge to the Québec government for each tonne of CO2 emissions produced. These emission units can be distributed free of charge, sold by auction or at private sales, by the government to companies. As of 2015, the SPDE now includes fossil fuel distributors, and the number of emission rights issued by the government is reduced each year. The revenues generated by the SPDE are fully transferred to the Green Fund, the main financer of the CSAP.


With 41% of total emissions in 2014 and an increase of 20.4% since 1990, the transportation sector is Quebec’s main GHG emitter. Road transportation is the main culprit, with its emissions almost doubling from 4.83 to 9.19 MtCO2eq between 1990 and 2014. The Québec government is therefore running 11 programs dedicated solely to mobility. Since 2017, the Eco-trucking program aims to financially support businesses in adopting low-carbon and more energy-efficient technologies in freight vehicles : the purchase of hybrid vehicles, auxiliary systems to reduce fuel consumption related to equipment operation, or aerodynamics. It also finances studies to improve logistics within companies and thus reduce travel. Over the years 2015-2016, more than C$6.5 million in financial assistance has been granted to 892 applications for the installation of 6,787 pieces of equipment. As at March 31, 2016, the program had reduced emissions by 228,328 ktCO2eq. For individuals, the C$120-million « Electric Drive » program has provided financial assistance of C$8,000 since 2015 for the purchase of an electric vehicle and C$600 for the installation of a 240-volt home terminal. The number of electric and hybrid vehicles has increased from 5,684 to 9,550 in 2015. Quebec is the first Canadian province to pass legislation requiring manufacturers to offer more vehicles certified as Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEV).


To go further