To revive the economy, it is also the rethink

Relancer l’économie, c’est aussi la repenser

The leadership of the prime minister Legault to protect the health and well-being of Quebecers has been exemplary since the beginning of the crisis of the COVID-19. In parallel to these efforts, he is preparing the economic recovery that is becoming more and more acute.

Many are seeking to know if this recovery can be carried out so as to promote the public health, economic growth and job creation, without the emission of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions back to their levels the previous. It is estimated that the overall emissions will drop by about 4% compared to the previous year due to the crisis. However, the rate of decline that should be followed to limit warming to 2oC is of the same magnitude as a COVID extra every year by 2030!

Settle for a recovery that brings us back to the point before the crisis we would, therefore, not on the right track. Several ideas have been suggested, but more difficult is to define the conditions of success for reconciling economy, public health and the environment. Three are presented here.

Maximize the impact of investments

The announcement of investments and programs is not a guarantor of results. It is important to put in place a management framework to be rigorous and transparent, and to define preconditions to ensure that these investments are performing, structuring and optimal on several fronts. Similarly, without the integration of complementary measures to transform markets and align all expenditures towards the three objectives, investments will be inefficient, as was the case of the green Fund. Thus, investments in transportation electrification, for example, will need to be accompanied by measures to limit the sales of large vehicles, whereas those in the building sector will have to be accompanied by a “greening” of the building code.

Prioritization of measures of circular economy

To promote the economic growth and the reduction of GHG, the recovery must be such as to increase the wealth creation of companies by the optimization, reduction of losses and the efficient use of energy resources and materials through the value chain of a product or service. The transition to a circular economy does not only improve the productivity and resilience of firms, it can reduce its environmental footprint. An inter-ministerial committee on the circular economy already exists. It should be called to integrate with that of the stimulus.

To favour the science in the decision-making

The prime minister Legault quickly recognized that in order to absorb the crisis, it should avoid being politicized. To get there, he established a scientific committee, whose members accompanied him in his press briefings to present the progression of the virus by relation to the different scenarios. The strategy of re-opening of the economy relies on these data. Thus, the access to scientific data is a key factor in the decision-making process and the social acceptability that lead to effective action and collective against the pandemic. In this same logic, the government should establish committees of experts to advise on aspects of climate, health and the circular economy related to the recovery plan.

The co-sponsors are :

  • Johanne Whitmore, principal Researcher, Chair in management of the energy sector, HEC Montréal
  • Daniel Normandin, executive Director, Institute of the Environment, sustainable development and the circular economy
  • Julien Beaulieu, titular Researcher, industrial research Chair NSERC industrial Ecology and territorial, Centre de transfert technologique en écologie industrielle
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