Two environmental groups, The Montreal Climate Coalition and Trainsparence have asked that the Réseau Électrique Métropolitain (REM) be subjected to a proper climate test to determine the project’s effect on greenhouse gas emissions. This request was made in a letter to Quebec’s Environment Minister, David Heurtel.
“Quebec’s greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) commitments are ambitious and their timelines are very short. To meet our commitments, we must choose the best projects available, starting now. The REM is a $ 6 billion+ project that will absorb most transit investments over the next decade. It therefore seems appropriate to make a full assessment of the project’s effects on GHG emissions,” reads part of their joint letter.
The REM’s promoter, Caisse de dépôt et de placements du Québec (CPDQ) released a paper on this subject: Étude sur les gaz à effet de serre, dated February 1, 2017, suggesting that the REM will achieve very modest GHG reductions, representing one tenth of 1% of transportation emissions in Quebec. However, this study has several major shortcomings, making it impossible to conclude about the merits of the REM.
“Assuming the CDPQ numbers are right, it is difficult to see how we will ever meet our GHG targets by spending over $6 billion to achieve such a tiny reduction. But more importantly, the CDPQ never considered how the REM will encourage urban sprawl, a major contributor to GHG production. Nor did it consider what is probably 700,000 tons of GHGs required to make the concrete to construct the REM,” says spokesman John Symon.
Symon notes that GHG emissions from construction of the REM will therefore cancel the first 20 years of expected GHG reductions from this project. “If I were a college professor marking the CDPQ’s study, I would not give it a passing grade. The public deserves much better,” notes Symon.
“Because of these important omissions, among others, we are asking Heurtel to order an independent climate test on the REM before construction begins . A credible assessment should also consider whether alternative projects (to the REM) would allow for greater emission reductions at lower costs. The timing is perfect because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meets this week in Montreal,” continues Symon.
The two groups remind the public that Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) rejected the REM in a report released in January, 2017.
The CDPQ estimates the cost of the REM at $6.1 billion, including over $3 billion of public monies. Not included in the cost estimate are billions more worth of public assets that will be basically given to the CDPQ for free. The two groups cited above also note that the REM project runs counter to key recommendations of the Charbonneau Commission on fighting corruption.