Turquoise exchange is far from green, as the government claims. Most of the greenhouse gases (GHG) are emitted during construction by a controversial hydropower project in India.
Transport Minister Franசois Ponnardel praised Durkot’s “carbon neutrality” this fall.
The exchanger developer, the KPH consortium, has chosen to offset three-quarters of its emissions by purchasing carbon credits from a hydropower plant project called Barbati 3.
However, our Bureau of Investigation has identified several questionable elements of the National Hydroelectric Association (NHPC) project related to this project.
Deforestation and damaged fields
The complex, like other hydropower plants in Himachal Pradesh in northern India, has been criticized for being geographically unstable and prone to earthquakes and landslides.
“These projects are not only vulnerable, they make the region more catastrophic by exacerbating the effects of existing hazards,” says Manshi Usher of the Regional Environmental Research and Joint Action Organization, Himtara.
“Massive construction above and below the ground has led to deforestation, affecting biodiversity, but also disrupting sensitive geography, damaging homes, fields and roads, and severely affecting the livelihoods of local people,” he added.
Himanshu Thackeray, of the South Asia Network, an NGO on dams, rivers and peoples, denounced “absolutely no standards for transparency or accountability of those responsible.”
In April 2019, a union leader was quoted daily Amar Ujala The investigation was called after a leak in a tunnel in Barbati 3.
The tunnel has undergone three major repairs since 2013, leading to a closure that lasted several months.
Local NGOs say the environmental studies that led to these projects have failed.
“These reports are being ignored [les risques] Or propose mitigation measures that have never been implemented or are adequate to the extent of the problems that occur, ”says Manshi Asher.
Corruption and collusion
In March 2021, Barbati 3’s assistant manager at NHPC was arrested for stealing $ 170,000 worth of metal rods.
In July, another NHPC executive was arrested for soliciting a $ 8,000 bribe from a subcontractor working on another phase of the project. The NHPC did not respond to our interview requests.
The third phase of the project has been in operation since 2014. Phase 2 of the project, which includes a 31km tunnel, is still under construction for 20 years due to a number of issues.
In May, four workers were killed when a tunnel collapsed during excavation work.
Quebec does not care about follow-ups
While digging to track the GHG offsets emitted during the construction of the Durkot Interchange, we discovered significant gaps in the green mark of the highway project.
Most of the site’s emissions come from KPH, the private company that created the new transaction. Thus, 125,000 tons of GHGs were offset by the purchase of carbon credits. However, we found:
- The largest share of carbon credits comes from the controversial hydropower plant in India;
- MTQ agrees to do business with a company that has lost its KPH-Turcot certification and refuses to be held liable;
- A quarter of the credits were not cleared before our Bureau of Investigation pointed out this error to the Ministry of Transport (Read Wednesday)
While the Legault government’s promise that the tunnel between Quebec and Lewis will be carbon neutral, these shortcomings raise doubts about the seriousness of MTQ’s approach.
MTQ did not comment
MTQ awarded the Carde Blanche to KPH for the selection of GHG Offset projects, until the credits are certified by an approved standard.
“Plans do not have to be decided by the ministry,” explains spokesman Martin Girard.
The controversial project in India is listed in the Verra Register, which confirms that the GHG reduction is verifiable.
” [Verra] It does not go far enough to test whether the project will have a negative impact on the surrounding community, “said Jean Nolet, chairman of Coop Carbon and a former Quebec climate change economist.
The ministry does not care about the origin of the credits and does not know how much this “carbon neutrality” will cost.
“The total cost related to the purchase of carbon credits is included in the overall budget envelope of the contract […] By KPH Turcot. So this amount is not specifically known by the ministry, ”Martin Girard confirmed.
MTQ also accepted responsibility for a portion of the Turcode site. He made up for his own GHG by planting trees along the roadsides.
In December, our Bureau of Investigation reported that it would take 100 years for these trees to compensate for the pollution coming from the site. So far, only a third of the promised 51,000 trees have been planted.
– In collaboration with Dominic Campron-Colette
Where are the 300,000 trees?
The carbon neutrality of the Turcot transaction was partially handed over to a company that had lost certification due to defects in its tree plantations.
Initially, the KPH consortium planned to partner with NatureLab.World to plant trees in Quebec to offset its GHG emissions.
The plantation company was the only one in Canada to have a valuable gold quality certificate.
However, in March 2020, Gold Standard withdrew the certificate from the Nature Lab plantations. Press In the fall of 2019. This was especially a question of major shortcomings in the management and control of plantations.
For example, the Saint-Bruno site was abandoned because 13,000 black spruce trees planted did not survive. In Mirabell, 30% of the trees are dead.
To meet the requirements of MTQ after the loss of this certification, KPH then agreed with the Ministry to repurchase the carbon credits of the Barbati 3 Hydroelectric Power Station in India via NatureLab.
These credits are certified by low control standards.
However, the ministry continued that in addition to the carbon credits from the Indian project, “more than 300,000 trees have been planted. […] In the metropolitan area reforestation program.
Spokesman Martin Girord specifically mentions the Saint-Bruno and Mirabel gardens, although they are complex.
The certification and information request we received from Naturelab KPH for certification did not confirm that 300,000 trees had been planted, but rather “participated in the planting of 373,992 trees”.
It is very difficult to calculate
We tried to find out how many trees were actually planted. Simon Tremble of NatureLab first explained to us: “There is no carbon neutrality with trees and it is very difficult to calculate. ⁇
Mr. Tremble should give us more details after some testing. But the next day, Luke Quimond, the latter and co-founder of the company, made a secret deal to refuse to answer our questions.
⁇ Carbon neutral
Just because carbon is neutral does not mean there are no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Compensating for emissions produced by purchasing carbon credits for green projects or by planting trees is a question. It is as if the GHGs of one have been canceled by the reduction of the other.
⁇ Carbon debt
One carbon credit equals one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions (C02). These credits can be purchased from renewable energy generation projects such as wind farms or reforestation, for example, which help reduce GHGs.
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