Photo: Jacques Nadeau Archives The Duty
In terms of écofiscalité, an idea which often comes up is that of modulating the taxes to the acquisition of or rights to the registration of vehicles according to their engine capacity.
The Quebec government fails to use the full potential of economic instruments at its disposal to promote the shift to a green economy, according to the sustainable development commissioner, which made public its annual report Wednesday morning.
The government has been providing for years that he wants to increase the use of measures based on the principles of the écofiscalité, cross-compliance, and eco-responsibility. It includes, for example, taxes on polluting products, subsidies conditional on compliance with environmental criteria or tax credit targeted.
It’s a bit like the green Fund : there is a lack of transparency, monitoring and accountability
— Johanne Whitmore
However, commissioner Paul Lanoie noted that the ministry of the Environment and the Fight against climate change (MELCC) and the interdepartmental committees that he chaired were not able to orient the apparatus of the state in this direction. Furthermore, the effectiveness of existing measures is rarely evaluated, although it is difficult to know if they actually contribute to the protection of the environment and to the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“It’s a bit like the green Fund : there is a lack of transparency, monitoring and accountability” about measures écofiscalité of the government, raises Johanne Whitmore, senior researcher at the Chair of management of the energy sector at HEC Montreal, after reading the report.
No clear signal
Departments and agencies do not have a “clear signal” of the MELCC to increase their use of economic instruments for environmental purposes, judge Mr. Lanoie. Moreover, the policy objectives of the government sustainable development Strategy 2015-2020 are not accurate. So, since 2015, only eight new measures have been put in place. The potential effect on the environment of several of them “seems to be limited,” notes the commissioner.
To remedy the situation, ” it is clear that it takes a signal from the highest authority possible to the government “, observes the economist Luc Godbout, de l’université de Sherbrooke, who has chaired in 2014-2015 by the review Board on the québec taxation. “As long as the ministry of Environment and the ministry of Finance will not be working hand in hand, he adds, the écofiscalité will struggle to make the importance in Quebec. “
After the United States, Québec and Canada are the two OECD governments taking the least amount of taxes related to the environment. In the province, only 3.6 % of the total revenues of taxes falls within this area, while the OECD average is 6.8 %.
With respect to subsidies offered by the Quebec — that are rarely conditional to the achievement of environmental objectives, the summary of the report of the commissioner made reference to a ” missed opportunity “.
“Despite an estimated budget of $ 7.6 billion in 2018-2019, the granting of financial assistance through the programs standard is rarely linked to the respect of environmental conditions or criteria of environmental responsibility,” said Mr. Lanoie during the presentation of the document to the national Assembly.
This kind of measures nonetheless has an interesting potential, ” says Michael Robert-Angers, a researcher from the University of Sherbrooke who is interested in the écofiscalité. It gives as an example the tax credits in the computer industry.
“You could look where is located the server,” he said. Is it that the server is powered by a coal plant ? It could be a test to add to ensure that the money maximizes the benefits to the environment. “
In terms of écofiscalité, an idea which often comes up is that of modulating the taxes to the acquisition of or rights to the registration of vehicles according to their engine capacity. In the framework of this system of ” bonus-malus “, the whole of the sums collected from the owners of polluting vehicles would be redistributed to those who ride in cars are less energy-intensive.
According to Johanne Whitmore, this type of measurement is essential to the achievement of the ambitious objectives of Quebec’s GHG emissions. Luc Godbout believes that changes must occur quickly, after years of palaver. “It may be that it is not necessary to think that the timing is not good because of the COVID,” he said. In fact, it may be that the timing is better than ever. “
The office of the minister of the Environment is argued to be the origin of the issues raised by Mr. Lanoie. “Unfortunately, we still see traces of the reign liberal in the report that was filed by the commissioner of sustainable development today,” responded the officer Benoit Charette in a written reply. It ensures that the government is working to establish a “genuine culture of sustainable development” within the State, and that his strategy for the fight against climate change will be published in the autumn.