Climate activists demanding quick transition to a green economy in Quebec

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WATCH: It could be quite a while before the economy recovers from the ongoing coronavirus crisis but as Global’s Tim Sargeant reports, many are hopeful that we can build a more environmentally friendly future and create a greener economy. – Sep 25, 2020

Gas-powered vehicles are still widely used to move most Canadians around but greener modes of transportation are well under construction.

In Montreal, workers continue to build the all-electric light rail train network, Le Réseau express métropolitain, simply known as the REM.

It’s the latest transportation project to move the city toward a more sustainable future.

“Governments can do a lot to ensure we have a green re-launch of the economy,” Colleen Thorpe, Equiterre president told Global News.

Part of that green re-launch is happening now. A massive new solar power station is being built in La Prairie for Hydro-Quebec.

Read more: Hydro-Québec expands its horizons with massive solar energy project

Borea Construction has been commissioned to install the solar plant that will span 28 football fields. The company specializes in renewable energy projects.

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“There’s no carbon dioxide emissions, so really we’re looking at a very viable way of producing electricity,” Debby Cordeiro, VP of communications at Pomerleau, told Global News.

Greener, more environmentally-friendly energy sources are key for Canadian lawmakers to contain our greenhouse gas emissions.

“Ninety-seven per cent of the cars that are on the road today are internal combustion engines that use gas. Three per cent are electric vehicles. So we need to change that,” Jonathan Wilkinson, federal environment minister, told Global News.

The country’s total carbon dioxide emissions have been steadily growing during the past thirty years.

According to statistics compiled by the International Energy agency, Canada produced 572 metric tons of carbon dioxide last year — a record number since 1990.

Read more: Looking to buy an electric car? Here’s why they may be harder to find

Canada’s carbon dioxide emissions per capita has largely remained constant during the same period. Last year it measured 15.2 tons per capita. Those emissions have been on a downward trend since our record high in 2007 of 17 tons per capita.

“We will immediately be bringing forward a new climate plan and I expect we will be doing that in the very near term,” Wilkinson said.

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But some argue we’re not going fast enough.

“We actually need to act much more quickly and that’s what we’re not seeing from our governments right now,” Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada senior energy strategist, told Global News.

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More wind turbines and solar panels are the types of renewable energy sources that climate activists say need to be prioritized.

Seth Klein who just wrote, A GOOD WAR: MOBILIZING CANADA FOR THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY  , argues the government needs to tackle the climate emergency like it reacted to the Second World War.

“I undertook this book project because I thought we needed a historic reminder of how quickly we’re capable of moving and pivoting,” Klein, told Global News.

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Many just hope lawmakers will now put the pedal to the metal to accelerate the green economy.

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