Quebec is joining the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA), an international alliance led by Denmark and Costa Rica to speed up the global phaseout of fossil fuels, Premier François Legault announced last week.
The statement landed just a few days before BOGA’s official launch this Wednesday, November 10 at COP 26, the United Nations climate conference, in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Quebec intends to fight climate change by exploiting, in particular, its abundant hydroelectric resources,” Legault said. “But to achieve its target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 37.5% compared to 1990 and achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, it must also free itself from fossil fuels. By joining the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, Quebec is setting an example and assuming its leadership role in the production of green energy. It also encourages other states to find alternatives to oil and gas.”
The announcement quickly drew praise from Quebec climate groups, in a release coordinated by Montreal-based Équiterre.
“The Legault government is showing leadership by joining BOGA, but the end of drilling in Quebec should come as no surprise to anyone and even less to oil and gas,” said Nature-Québec Director-General Alice-Anne Simard. “Science has said for years that if we are to abide by the Paris agreement and limit global warming below a safe threshold, 80% of known oil and gas reserves must stay in the ground.”
“By joining the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, the government of Quebec is sending a clear message to other provinces, Canada, and the rest of the world: managing the decline in fossil production is an essential step in climate action. and Quebec is showing the way,” said Caroline Brouillette, domestic policy manager at Climate Action Network-Canada. “Let’s hope Quebec is a first domino: Canada, the provinces and territories must do the same and put an end to the expansion of fossil production and exports, and ensure a just transition for workers and communities.”
“Quebec joins BOGA! That’s excellent news, @francoislegault,” tweeted Patrick Rondeau, just transition advisor at the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec. “All that remains is to put in place a just transition program.”
The groups in the Équiterre release called on the province to resist demands for compensation from fossil companies claiming any disadvantage as a result of the announcement.
“Quebec is already coping with hundreds of orphan oil and gas wells, the dismantling of which will be expensive to manage,” the release states. “As well, several companies have already received tens of millions of dollars in public funds to support their oil exploration activities. Not a dime of new public funding should be put into an industry that has pushed us to the brink of the climate abyss.”
In the weeks leading up to the COP, it looked unlikely that Canada would join this week’s BOGA announcement—although the country’s commitment last week to phase out international public financing of oil, gas, and coal looked impossible, too, until it wasn’t.
“I think it would be a great signal to the rest of the world for Canada to join an initiative like that,” University of British Columbia climate scientist Simon Donner, a member of the federal Net-Zero Advisory Body, told CBC in late October. “I don’t think we’re probably ready to do it, though, right now.”