Response to Dominic Champagne

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This week, environmental activist and director of The Pact for the Ecological Transition Dominic Champagne met with Quebec’s Liberal Party caucus to present his climate change bill which he presented to the Coalition Avenir de Quebec last December.

This bill is aimed at a set of legislative proposals including targets for reducing greenhouse gases by 2050 and suggests making them mandatory. The bill will also require the government to ensure that all the regulations and laws adopted by the Québec government respect the achievement of these targets.

While legislation can be aq good thing when dealing with issues like climate change, Mr. Champagne is known to use inflammatory language when it comes to his opposition to fossil fuels and climate change. These hyperbolic examples sway opinion away from the truth, which does not do the issue of climate change justice.

In some of his introductory statements, he references the unfortunate circumstance of 86-year-old Dominique Michel who had fainted during a heatwave last year in Quebec.

While the oil and gas industry is making strides to eliminate our environmental impact on climate change, to blame these heatwaves on hydrocarbon development is simply wrong. This weather data graph shows the number of days above 30 degrees Celsius all the way back until 1943 for the city of Quebec! 

As unfortunate as Madame Michel’s situation was, there more heatwaves between 1943 and 1975, then 1975 – 2019. In fact, the year with the most days above 30 Celsius was in 1947 with 22 days. What is most unfortunate is Mr. Champagne’s use of (what could only be described as an awful experience) Madame Michel’s fainting as leverage for his own political motivations.

Mr. Champagne’s meeting with the Liberal Caucus comes amid protests against the Gazoduq natural gas pipeline project that will be a part of the greater Quebec LNG project for Saguenay.

Protest organizer Rodrigue Turgeon noted that “Our elected representatives, the decisions they and they must make must certainly be based on science, the climate emergency, and this project does not pass the climate test,” In the process they put out misleading information on a several important parts of the climate change debate. Climate change is real, complex and must be dealt with. Telling lies about what is going on is not helpful

Pipeline opponents oppose this project due to its association with natural gas, which they and politicians such as MP Emilise Lessard-Therrien proclaim has no climate benefit. Despite the claims of Mr.Turgeon and MP Lessard-Therriesn, overwhelming evidence points out that natural gas can significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. This corroborated by the International Energy Agency, EPA and others.

Climate change is an issue, but the impacts associated are also complex. In 2012, the IPCC Special Report on Extreme Weather came out and supported the Hohenkammer Consensus, concluding that once you adjust for population growth and economic changes, there is no statistical connection between climate change and measures of weather-related damages.

Using the type of language that Mr. Champagne, MP Lessard-Therrien and Mr. Turgeon use does nothing to contribute to advancing protection against climate change, and everything to further dilute the science behind energy products like natural gas.

If we are going to have a real debate about real world problems and find real world solutions we need everyone in the debate to stick to the facts and acknowledge the real issues, the real problems and the real opportunities.

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