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Quebec premier says exporting hydroelectricity is key to fighting climate change

Premier François Legault speaks to reporters at the CAQ general council in Montreal on Sunday, May 26, 2019.
Premier François Legault speaks to reporters at the CAQ general council in Montreal on Sunday, May 26, 2019. Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Quebec Premier François Legault says he’s listened to the skeptics who say the CAQ government is not doing enough for the environment.

This weekend, the premier committed to reaching a 2030 global climate change target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37.5 per cent below 1990 levels.

READ MORE: ‘We didn’t focus on the environment’ — CAQ admits more needs to be done to green the economy

During his closing speech after a two-day CAQ general council centred around the theme “the green economy,” he explained to 1,300 party members his plan to protect the environment and fight climate change.

“Climate change is a global challenge,” he told the crowd. “We will do what it takes within Quebec, but let us not forget the fastest and most important contribution we can do is to export our electricity, our green energy, to our neighbours.”

READ MORE: Premier François Legault to force the Caisse to purchase REM trains made in Quebec

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Legault said that if the agreements to sell Quebec hydroelectricity to Massachusetts and New York City go ahead, that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five million tonnes per year.

“Let’s become the battery of North America,” he said.

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“It’s a win-win for Quebec, for our neighbours and for the planet.”

Legault said his plan was pragmatic because it would help protect the environment while creating wealth for Quebec.

READ MORE: ‘We are not at war with Alberta’ — Quebec stands firm against pipeline

“We face a huge challenge. We must make Quebec richer and, at the same time, lower greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

He claimed that Quebec is one of the places in the world with the highest percentage of green energy. Thirty-six per cent of the energy consumed in the province is “clean electricity,” according to the premier.

However, 40 per cent of the energy consumed in the province is generated by oil. Legault was clear that he wants to decrease Quebec’s overall oil consumption, even if the vast majority of oil is imported from Western Canada and the United States.

READ MORE: Quebec not impressed with Alberta Premier-designate Jason Kenney’s pipeline plea

By 2030, Legault says Quebec will consume 40 per cent less oil than it does now.

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“It’s a transition, and of course, I want to reduce the consumption of oil. I have no problem saying that to Jason Kenney,” he said in reference to the Alberta premier and his recent plea to back an oil pipeline.