In the room, the astonishment is great. Before showing up at the TLM-Un Tiers Lieu solidarity cooperative in Montreal, in the Plateau Mont-Royal, last Tuesday evening, the ten participants – the vast majority of them women – calculated their carbon footprint using a model developed by the French social economy company 2tonnes, behind this workshop now offered in thirty countries.

The annual average greenhouse gas emissions of the participants present is around 14 tonnes eq. CO2, which is slightly below the Canadian average (15 to 20 tons depending on the calculation methods). The smallest footprint is around 10 tons; the highest is twice as high.

In fact, the objective of the workshop is as simple as the challenge is colossal. Using an interactive game, which takes place over eight rounds, spread over a fictional time sequence from 2023 to 2050, participants must lower their carbon footprint to 2 tonnes by choosing from a selection of action cards (by English for the moment, the main weak point of the workshop).

We alternate between the individual and the collective and between the themes: food, energy, transport, consumption, etc. There are also cards based on influence and mobilization, whose role should not be underestimated.

The model, built using data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank, takes into account the carbon footprint of public services such as hospitals, schools and roads. In Canada, this is estimated at 5 tonnes eq. CO2 per capita per year. So we start the exercise with a big deficit.

To act on this data, it will be necessary to adopt collective measures. Gathered around a table, the participants lend themselves to simulations by being parachuted into a COP27 assembly where each country must defend its interests.

The game is played blind. The workshop leader, Théo Chevalier, only reveals at the end of each round the gestures that have the most impact and the effects that our decisions have on our personal curves.

For now, these orders of magnitude are based on French data – the situation could be different for Quebec, in particular due to the energy mix. The model is not perfect, agrees the facilitator, but it is constantly being improved.

Flying less is a heartbreaking decision for many participants who have family overseas. However, a round-trip Montreal-Paris flight in economy class results in the emission of 1.9 tonnes eq. CO2. During the first round, few are ready to reduce their movements. But, as the window of time to act shrinks, the pressure mounts. In the year 2050, many reluctantly select the “Stop Stealing” card.

At the collective level, the group adopts measures to preserve natural areas, implement more sustainable agricultural practices, tax thermal cars, decarbonize energy production and, in 2050, impose a carbon emissions quota on citizens.

Despite all these drastic actions, we will not be able to reach the 2 tonne target. The average of all the participants is 4.33 tonnes eq. CO2. However, thanks to the impact of collective measures, the world average has been lowered to 2.47 tonnes CO2e. CO2.

“With the choices you made, you succeeded in mobilizing 100% of the population,” congratulates Theo Chevalier. If there are more people who are aware and want to take action, it will more easily change policies and industries. »

“The end of the workshop is very significant for me, because it gives the impression that we can make a big difference by educating,” shares Geneviève Fournier-Goulet, who is considering inviting the workshop to her CEGEP.

“When you see the impact of public services, it almost makes you want to do politics,” says Laure Colin, who deplores the fact that the authorities tend to brush aside the need for action in the court of citizens.

Are some groups successful in achieving the goal? “In the two, three workshops I did here, no, because common services have such an important part,” replies Théo Chevalier. In France, there are some who manage to do so. »

Trained in engineering, he is one of the first volunteer facilitators to present the 2tonnes workshop in Quebec, every other Monday evening at the Tiers Lieu. Already a facilitator for La fresco du climat, another workshop from France that helps to understand the phenomena of climate change, he wanted to offer a complementary, more positive approach.

“When you are aligned with environmental values, you are often seen as the extravagant person who just wants to punish others, observes Alexandre St-Pierre, a participant. In activities like these, that is not what happens and that is what is pleasant. »