Défi climat, a climate challenge

Défi climat is Quebec’s largest awareness and mobilization campaign in the fight against climate change.


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About the project Edit

Défi climat is Quebec’s largest awareness and mobilization campaign that takes place mainly at work and in schools every spring. Targeting workplaces and schools, the campaign invites citizens to reduce their personal greenhouse gas emissions through changes in their lifestyle and travel habits. To support them, it suggests some twenty simple and concrete measures, such as using public transit, recycling at home or opting for locally produced foods. The environmental benefit of each of these actions is quantified in terms of CO2 emissions savings. As well as mobilizing employees or students, organization are also invited to commit to reducing their own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by choosing from a list of ten organizational actions.

In 2008, Montreal’s regional environment council (CRE), in partnership with the Regional Conference of Elected Officers of Montréal (CRÉ) and Équiterre, launched the Défi climat project. In 2010, it was extended across the province of Quebec thanks to the partnership between sixteen Quebec regional environment councils (CRE). It was made possible because of the main financial contribution of the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (MDDEP), as well as the financial support of several other national and regional financial partners that contributed to the campaign’s success across Quebec.


In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Défi climat’s success is based on the commitment from organizations in all sectors to mobilize their employees and students in a collective effort to reduce GHG emissions. Its turnkey formula provides campaign directors and their teams support in planning and organizing a Défi climat campaign within their organization. Under supervision of the campaign director or promotional committee, the Défi climate team set up communication tools that are free of charge to participating organizations.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

Défi climat is a collective movement that makes a real difference! It shows citizens that taken together, the GHG reductions resulting from the pledges of each participant have a significant collective impact in the fight against climate change. By demonstrating the cumulative impact of individual actions, the campaign creates momentum and produces a ripple effect that begins within the workplace and flows beyond to partner organizations. Actions proposed by Défi climat also have significant social, health and economic impact.

As well, organizations register with Défi climat to actively fight against climate change by showing their social and environmental commitment. Défi climat is also a good way to strengthen ties between employer and employee and enhance the sense of belonging to the organization.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Launched in 2008 in Montreal, Défi climat joined the Quebec City region in 2009 and expanded across all regions of Quebec starting with the 2010 campaign. Organizers wanted to take the initiative across Canada by testing in a few other provinces. Participating organizations that have offices elsewhere in Canada have already shown their interest to invite employees outside Quebec to participate.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

In 2008, surveys showed that Quebecers were among the most concerned of all Canadians regarding climate change, an issue that is definitely one of the greatest challenges of the century for the planet. However, despite this increased awareness of environmental issues, survey results clearly indicate that Quebecers do very little to improve the environmental record. In the meantime, this observation was not specific to Quebec as most industrialized countries seem to be caught up in the same paradox of inaction. Several specialists explain this dichotomy between awareness of environmental problems and citizen inaction by the fact that people have the impression that the small actions to protect the environment (i.e., changing light bulbs, recycling at home, installing shower low-flow heads and faucet aerators) are not enough to make a real impact on the environment. However, even though there is no miracle solution to protect our environment, it is the cumulative of small gestures that counts and everyone must, therefore, do their part. Moreover, small gestures raise citizen awareness and promote understanding of big issues in society.

On the other hand, according to Québec's inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, transport is the sector that adds the most GHG emissions in Quebec. Since 1992, emissions in this sector continue to increase. In order to respond to this major issue notably in the Montreal urban area, organizers have suggested encouraging citizens to change their lifestyle and commuting habits for the Défi climat’s campaign against climate change.

What is the business model of this project? Edit

Défi climat’s total campaign budget is now more than $1 million and comes mainly from the green fund of the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks. Défi climat must also count on the financial support of several important partners which allows organizers to fulfill financial needs, notably the salaries of the team who manages the campaign, setting up communication tools like the Web site, translating content, events and advertising. Many regional partners also contribute to campaigns in their regions in terms of financing, often of services by providing advertising support to promote the campaign, for example.


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