Skip to main content

Pressure is mounting on Quebec’s newly elected premier to attend an upcoming United Nations climate conference to ensure the province stays on the forefront of the global movement pushing for change.

Following the Parti Quebecois and Quebec solidaire, the official Opposition Liberals as well as the environmental group Greenpeace have now added their voices to those calling on Francois Legault and his new environment minister, MarieChantal Chasse, to attend the COP24 climate summit taking place from Dec. 3 to 13 in Poland.

Legault has thus far been reluctant to commit to attending the summit, even though previous premiers have attended similar meetings.

He told the media in a news conference in Quebec City 10 days ago that his agenda is “very busy.”

While the federal government will be responsible for signing any agreements at the summit, the provinces will be responsible for implementing the measures to meet greenhouse gas emission targets.

In an interview, the Liberal party’s interim leader called on the premier to show his commitment to addressing climate issues by heading up a Quebec delegation comprised of representatives from all political parties as well as civil society and business.

“Francois Legault needs to show the world that Quebec is serious and that he wants to continue the leadership that we’ve shown over the past years,” Pierre Arcand told The Canadian Press.

Arcand said Legault’s participation is doubly necessary given what he called the United States’ indifference to climate issues.

At least two of Legault’s predecessors, Philippe Couillard and Jean Charest, attended previous climate summits.

Greenpeace spokesman Patrick Bonin, for his part, said Quebec has “a major role” to play in a conference that is addressing “urgent” issues.

“It’s practically an obligatory passage for a new government that has to work doubly hard because it has come empty-handed to the election campaign on the issue of climate change,” Bonin said in an interview.

“It has a lot of catching up to do at a time when the challenge has never been so big.”

Bonin said it’s in the new Coalition Avenir Quebec government’s interest to attend, in order to take better advantage of emerging green economies and give the new environment minister a crash course in climate issues.

Contacted Friday, Chasse’s office said the final decision on attendance had not yet been made.

On the federal side, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has said she will attend. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not yet confirmed his presence.

The UN Conference on Climate Change opens at a busy time for the Legault government.

The legislature gets under way on Nov. 27 and in principle should be in session until Dec. 7, during which time the new government is expected to present its first bills since winning October’s election.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe