Quebec’s government-run liquor stores are getting rid of the majority of their refrigerators in an effort to reduce carbon emissions.

The move is being criticized by Quebecers, amid the possibility of having to forgo chilled wine.

As reported by Le Journal de Montreal, the Societe des alcools du Quebec (SAQ) will remove two thirds of the refrigerators in its stores over the next 15 years. This will bring the total number of fridges in the SAQ’s store network from around 3000 to 900.

The changes will vary by store type, with the SAQ’s 279 classic stores going from an average of four fridges to just one. Meanwhile, the SAQ’s 92 “selection” stores, which offer a variety of premium alcohols, will go from having a dozen fridges to just three.

The SAQ’s 26 small format “express” locations will not be affected by the move.

SCREENSHOT: A breakdown consisting of the types of SAQ stores, the number of outlets, and the current number of fridges from Le Journal de Montreal.

SAQ spokesperson Genevieve Cormier says the changes “will require some adjustment, both from our employees and customers. But we are confident that, in the long run, the public will get used to this change and will appreciate the crown corporation’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint.”

The liquor agency decided to proceed with the removal of the majority of its refrigerators after a two year pilot project which saw all fridges removed from three of its stores. The SAQ does not believe the removal of fridges will create great dissatisfaction among customers or have negative impacts on sales.

“The experience has allowed us to understand that customers accept to participate in the collective effort required by global warming,” said Cormier.

“At the same time, (customers) still want a minimum of refrigerated products… that is why we have decided to keep a third (of our refrigerators).”

The SAQ says its refrigerators are currently responsible for 9% of its carbon emissions, excluding transportation. It expects to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 83 tonnes, in addition to saving money from electricity costs associated with the fridges.

While the move has earned praise from some green industry leaders, it has also earned a fair amount of criticism.

Discussing the SAQ’s plans on his radio show, prominent Quebec commentator Richard Martineau said, “after (the SAQ) what will it be? Grocery stores? Orange juice will no longer be in fridges? Milk will no longer be in fridges?”

Martineau also sarcastically suggested the SAQ should axe air conditioning and heating in its stores to help save the planet.

Several Quebecers also took to social media to criticize the SAQ’s move.

It should be noted that this decision comes amid Quebec Premier Francois Legault pursuing a net-zero agenda. His government hopes to make Quebec carbon-neutral by 2050.

The SAQ began the process of removing fridges from its stores in January. It plans to remove them from 30 stores per year until it reaches its target. Fridges will in part be given to food banks.