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Research capsule

For a carbon neutral economy in Québec

In 2015, in anticipation of the Paris Conference on climate change (COP21), Montréal citizens created the Montréal Climate Coalition, which requested and obtained a public consultation on reducing Montréal’s dependence on fossil fuels. This event led to 15 recommendations that the Coalition integrated in its vision for the transition toward clean energy that will allow Montréal to become a carbon neutral city by its 400th anniversary in 2042.

The Coalition favours a cultural approach based on changes in lifestyle habits.

The Coalition, which brings together some forty groups, is monitoring the implementation of the recommendations. It is involved in several issues, including the protection of Anse-à-l’Orme and the Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM) project.

Joseph El-Khoury, a PhD student in applied human sciences at Université de Montréal, joined the Coalition as co-founder of the social enterprise Jardins sans frontières, but then decided to go further. He began a PhD on the emergence of movements for the transition to a carbon neutral economy in Québec, using the Montréal Climate Coalition, where he serves as vice-president of research, as an example.

The objective of El-Khoury’s research project is to track the progress of the Montréal Climate Coalition, observing its implementation, its methods and its chances of making a positive contribution to carbon neutrality.

Joseph El-Khoury has already made two preliminary observations: first, that the composition of the Coalition is atypical, going beyond ecology and environmental circles to include groups working in the areas of transport, renewable energy and urban development; researchers; religious communities; etc.

Second, the Coalition’s approach is very different than that adopted by the City, which focuses on technology, technocracy and international institutions. The Coalition favours a more cultural approach based on changes in lifestyle habits and everyday practices. This confrontation between different approaches could bear fruit and lead to innovations that the researcher will be in a good position to observe!