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CAQ government aims to reform management of Quebec’s Green Fund

Quebec tables bill to fight climate change
WATCH: The Coaltion Avenir Québec government has tabled a new bill to fight climate change. If passed, it will give the environment minister more power to manage the money in the province's green fund. As Global's Raquel Fletcher explains, the opposition parties worry this could lead to political interference

The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government has tabled a new bill to fight climate change and promote electrification. If passed, it will give the environment minister more power to manage the money in the province’s Green Fund.

READ MORE: Quebec premier says exporting hydroelectricity is key to fighting climate change

On Thursday, Environment Minister Benoit Charette tabled Bill 44, essentially a reform of the Green Fund, which will be renamed the Electrification and Climate Change Fund. It was created in 2006 to collect revenue from a provincial carbon tax and then use that money to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

However, even though the Green Fund has invested more than $5 billion, Quebec is far from meeting its targets.

“We had great problems with the management of this fund so we didn’t have the results we were supposed to get,” Charette said.

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READ MORE: Government ‘didn’t care’ about reducing emissions, says members of Quebec’s green fund

The CAQ has already abandoned its target for 2020. Charette said the government is now focusing on 2030, with aims to reduce emissions by 30.5 percent below 1990 levels.

If this new bill is passed, the environment ministry will be responsible for spending the Green Fund revenue.

“So now we clearly have a captain in the government who is in charge,” Charette said.

CAQ admits its playing catch-up when it comes to environmental issues
CAQ admits its playing catch-up when it comes to environmental issues

However, this plan is sounding alarm bells for the opposition.

“Because until now, the government is not really credible about environmental issues so we have a lot of reasons to be skeptical,” said PQ MNA Sylvain Gaudreault.

“It’s very, very important that this fund will be managed in a transparent way and that politics will not put its hands on this fund,” said Quebec Solidaire MNA Ruba Ghazal.

READ MORE: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions went up in 2017 — far short of reduction targets

Charette has not yet presented his climate change action plan. He has announced plans to do so early next year, which means there were no details about what kinds of projects the minister will be supporting in Thursday’s bill.

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The Liberal opposition said it’s more than putting the cart before the horse.

“He’s taking the wheels off the cart. And so the cart won’t move because he’s taken the wheels off,” said Liberal MNA Carlos Leitao.