The green box is still opaque

Remember those millions of dollars the green fund gave Énergie Valero for an oil pipeline and Air Canada for fins? HEC Montreal University energy professor Pierre-Olivier Pinault believes that avoiding a similar scenario remains a challenge. very real challenge.

Since October 2020, the CAQ government has renamed the Green Fund the Electrification and Climate Change Trust (FECC). With $1.45 billion as of March 31, it is the second largest private fund for the Quebec government after the Generations Fund.

The money should be used to fund projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as the Electric Vehicle Purchase Discount Program (Roulez vert). The government has not ruled out using it to finance part of the tunnel project between Quebec and Levis.

Personally, I fear the further politicization of Green Fund spending, and that is what worries Mr. Pino. We have seen that there are many other expenditures made by decree rather than by prescribed programmes.

Mr. Pino knows the subject well. He is a member of the Climate Change Advisory Committee that was set up during the Green Box reform as an external mechanism to ensure transparency and accountability.

« There is certainly no more transparency as we speak. We even lost faith in the pace of information disclosure. […] We lost information in the process of transition. Today, we are definitely lost in terms of transparency. »

Quote from Pierre-Olivier Pinault, Professor and Chair in Energy Sector Management at HEC Montreal

The 13 members of the advisory committee serve as volunteers in addition to their professional duties and meet only once a month. Pierre-Olivier Pineau thinks this is a file Subject to future consideration by the CommitteeBut this committee Not all questions can be considered.

On November 29, the commission published a preliminary opinion sent 30 days earlier to the Minister for the Environment and the fight against climate change, Benoit Charette. Its recommendations mainly focused on achieving carbon neutrality, including Establish a mechanism for monitoring and planning climate action in the short and medium term, in the form of a carbon budget.

Expectation of a review of the performance of the general auditor

In addition to the advisory committee, the auditor general of Quebec now has a mandate to prepare an annual report on Its results and recommendations on FECC. But no later than last June, the organization said it faced big delays due to Unwillingness of some parties And that the audit of the financial statements of the Green Fund for the period from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 has not yet commenced.

The auditor’s office indicates that The Commissioner for Sustainable Development and her teams are currently reviewing the performance of the Federal Fisheries Commission and that a report is due in the spring of 2022. In context, nothing indicates that the commissioner will be able to get all the answers to highlight all the inflows and outflows.

Dashboard in the fall of 2022

According to a document from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change that we were able to consult, only in the fall of 2022 will there be a dashboard on the progress of the implementation plan. Implementation of the 2030 Green Plan The economy plan will be announced. Therefore, we risk getting a better overview of the situation beyond the October 2022 elections.

This dashboard will include budgets and expenditures, greenhouse gas reduction results, as well as performance indicators.

This dashboard was actually designed by the Green Fund Board of Directors, but it seems to have been left out. That board, set up by the Liberal government in 2017 to ensure better management of the fund in the wake of controversial subsidies, was abolished as part of the reform.

Its boss Sylvie Chagnon later said Canadian press: Hopefully, its abolition would not be a sign of a return to the faulty practices of the past..

Furthermore, the Board was asked to submit its financial statements, an annual management report and a list of funded actions in September of each year. Due to legislative changes, nothing was brought up last September.

What we know

At the moment, only the public accounts of the Quebec government allow us to get an overview of FECC, although it is very brief. For the 2020-2021 fiscal year, just over $1 billion was spent by various departments without knowing exactly why. During the same period, revenue primarily from the gasoline tax was $761 million.

The Ministry of Environment and Combating Climate Change explains this The Green Economy 2030 Plan and the Office of Electrification and Climate Change kicked off their first fiscal year on April 1 The implementation plan and its financial framework will be updated in the spring.

The ministry also brought us back to the follow-up papers distributed by ministries and agencies in the form of about fifty excel files. (A new window). After consultation, they provide few details for now, other than general information about the implementation plan procedures and associated budget.

When he came to power in 2018, Prime Minister François Legault stated that the Green Fund was “running anyway”. More than a year after the adoption of its minister Benoit Charette’s reform, proof of better MECC management remains to be done.

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