The government of Québec is preparing its energy policy. Its first consultations show that it has not integrated the changes that have come about in the area since 2006. This voluntary myopia costs us billions of dollars per year, and the bill could increase with time.
This is why it's urgent to break with our collective fixation on the construction of new means of production, and rather, consider the economic and environmental advantages of better energy management, which primarily targets hydrocarbons.
Here are four challenges that should be raised within the next energy policy of Québec.
Stop Getting Poorer
The North-American and global energy markets have changed, but Québec persists in only thinking in terms of supply. They are building useless electric power stations and importing expensive hydrocarbons in a context where we have today, and have had for a long time, a surplus of electricity, natural gas and sometimes oil. This will cost dearly to the people of Québec and will not bring about any benefit in new industries, competition, or quality of life.
Today we speak of increasing electricity fees for the people of Québec in order to save kilowatt hours that we will sell at a loss to our neighbors. Additionally, in 2015 the people of Québec will spend more than $1 billion in order to subsidize the export of electricity to the American Northeast; we are talking about a direct tax, hidden in the minor increases in the fees, and lesser profits for Hydro-Québec.
Choosing Energy that Makes Us Richer
While we seem obsessed with a very uncertain production of oil, we act very little on our modes of consumption: our buildings are weaker performing than in several other countries, and our way of urban development aims to "make cars happy." In short, we waste.
Québec's direct expenses on energy are more than $30 billion per year. We are talking about a major economic lever for structuring the economy in the long term, if it is used well in terms of efficiency and energy innovation.
To win, we must reverse the current approach and act to create new industries and jobs here - rather than exporting billions of oil sales - by substituting fuel oil for biomass for heating, by promoting mass transit, by building our buildings for the long term, and more. These measures will maximize local benefits.
GGE: Finally Getting with the Planet's Clock
In developing countries - even in China - climate change is a central concern. Energy represents nearly three-fourths of greenhouse gas emissions (GGE) in Québec, and even more elsewhere. However, Québec is preparing a 2025 energy policy without having decided on the target for the reduction of GGE over this period (the current target takes us to 2020), nor has it integrated the effects of its carbon market on the energy structure of the province.
While renewable energy is difficult to valorize and oil remains expensive, it is essential to integrate the GGE objectives within energy policy. Unfortunately, they are completely absent at the moment.
Mastery at Home
If supplying ourselves with energy efficiency was an original and strong approach, it's been 20 years since we have been fearing a shortage. Today we must focus on managing consumption and energy use in order to maximize the economic outcomes, while reaching the targets for GGE reductions.
With this logic, managing the energy performance of buildings that consume hydrocarbons and aiming for energy efficiency in the transportation of people and goods becomes a priority. If biomass is less energy efficient than fuel oil, the economic and environmental benefits provide us with a clear choice. In electricity, using the marginal market value - the price of off-peak export - would facilitate the determination of development and industrial tariff priorities.
How is your city reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Does your community utilize alternative energy sources such as solar and wind? Share your stories and thoughts in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.