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Press releases

The fight against acid rain in Québec


Québec, April 26, 2001 – On his way to join his federal, provincial and territorial counterparts in Winnipeg for the biannual meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), Minister André Boisclair announced that Québec will bring its reduction objective for acidifying emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) for 2010 up from 40% to 50%, with respect to 1994 emissions established at 500 kilotonnes/year. With this new objective, Québec passes a new major turning point, as historically it has always exercised decisive leadership where acid rain is concerned, especially given the severe impacts of acidification on its lakes and forests.

This additional commitment, which calls for reductions that may reach up to 50 kilotonnes a year, was obtained thanks to sustained talks with the heads of industry responsible for SO2 emissions in Québec, including first and foremost the heads of copper and titanium mining operations. Moreover, the new objective was submitted to advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations concerned by the acid rain issue.

This decision is consistent with The Canada-Wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post-2000 signed on October 19, 1998 by the Canadian Ministers of the Environment and Energy. The Strategy's primary goals are to pursue further emission reduction commitments from the United States and to target further SO2 emission reductions in Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. It also aims to ensure the adequacy of acid rain science and monitoring programs, upon which rest Canada's argumentation for its requests with the United States. Given that Québec co-chairs CCME's Acid Rain Work Group, set up to ensure progress in implementing The Strategy, Minister Boisclair will be making the official presentation of the conclusions out of the group's latest progress report to his colleagues who are meeting in the Manitoba capital on April 30 and May 1.

Regarding Québec's own progress report, Mr. Boisclair had this to say, "Our emissions, which totalled 1.1 million tonnes with respect to 1980 levels, have dropped by more than 70%. In 1998, our sulphur dioxide emissions reached 315 kilotonnes. Despite these performances and the reductions achieved in Ontario and the United States, I can only fervently deplore the fact that southern Québec continues to receive acid rain well beyond the critical load established to protect lakes and forests."

That is why, the Minister indicated, Québec will actively pursue its work to ensure implementation and monitoring of The Strategy. To that end, and in compliance with the Acid Rain Action Plan of the Conference of the New England Governors and the Eastern Canadian Premiers as well as The Strategy, Québec is currently reviewing its various science and monitoring programs. In addition, it will encourage its partners, and most notably the Government of Canada, to allocate all the resources required for the necessary environmental monitoring and to make the required representations to the United States.

As Mr. Boisclair explained, "because Québec receives exceedingly large loads, the need to monitor the phenomenon on a continuous basis to produce up-to-date reports of its impacts is an excellent means by which to convince the United States, main source of precursor emissions, of the need for further substantial reductions."

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Sylvia Provost
Press Attaché
Office of the Minister
Tel.: (418) 521-3911

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