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A coal-fired power plant.

"Closing the door on fossil fuel extraction is a huge victory, made possible by relentless opposition from citizens to both shale gas and conventional oil and gas exploitation," said Patrick Bonin of Greenpeace Canada. (Photo: Shutterstock)

'Who's Next?': Quebec Declares End to Fossil Fuel Extraction in Province

"In Canada and around the world, the pressure to end the expansion of oil and gas production will only continue to grow."

Andrea Germanos

Climate campaigners are welcoming Quebec Premier François Legault's Tuesday announcement that his government has decided to put an end to any further fossil fuel extraction in the province.

"This is the climate leadership we need."

"This is excellent news," said Patrick Bonin, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Canada, in a statement.

Legault's announcement—that the government "decided to definitively renounce the extraction of hydrocarbons on its territory"—came during the conservative's speech to a new parliamentary session in which he covered a range of topics from the healthcare system to "national cohesion" to a Covid-19 recovery plan.

Calling the development "a wise decision," Bonin added that the government "should not compensate oil and gas companies, which are largely responsible for the current climate crisis."

"Closing the door on fossil fuel extraction is a huge victory, made possible by relentless opposition from citizens to both shale gas and conventional oil and gas exploitation," he added. "In Canada and around the world, the pressure to end the expansion of oil and gas production will only continue to grow."

Alice-Anne Simard, director general of Nature Québec, similarly said in a statement that the announcement was "thanks to the millions of people and hundreds of groups who mobilized for decades against oil and gas drilling."

"We will now work," she added, "to ensure that this intention leads to the passage of strong legislation by the end of the parliamentary session."

It's also noteworthy, said Charles Bonhomme, a spokesperson for the David Suzuki Foundation, that the move would "benefit the citizens of Quebec and the whole world."

Bonhomme also expressed hope other Canadian provinces would follow suit and could ignite change at the United Nations climate summit beginning at the end of the month.

"Canada and the other countries present at COP 26 should be inspired by the audacity of Quebec," he said, "and announce measures as ambitious as this one."

The province's recent moves to reject the fossil fuel industry have already prompted legal action.

According to reporting by The Globe and Mail last month, one suit was filed in August by Utica Resources, which is seeking "an unspecified amount" for lost profits. The company, according to the paper, "alleges the government acted illegally and with political motives in refusing the company's application for an exploratory drilling license on the Galt project near the town of Gaspé."

That "legal salvo," The Globe and Mail added, "underscores that governments around the world planning to leave their fossil-fuel resources in the ground risk battles with stakeholders as they pursue such policy shifts."


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