Working for a strong climate accountability law to achieve net-zero by 2050

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Strong climate laws are essential to tackling a climate emergency that is not going anywhere. The more robust our climate laws are, the better Canada’s chances are of avoiding the disastrous impacts of the climate crisis.

In November 2020, the federal government tabled Bill C-12 The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, which aimed to put Canada on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050 and finally hold the federal government to account for achieving its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

While Ecojustice and other environmental groups welcomed the tabling of Bill C-12, we also noted that the legislation needed significant improvements to deliver true accountability.

The House Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, following submissions and witness testimony from Ecojustice and our partners, made important amendments to Bill C-12 — ensuring that forthcoming climate plans will include more detail and chart a clearer and more credible course for achieving emission reduction targets.

This new law will:
• Establish a long-term target of reaching net zero emissions in 2050;
• Set five-year milestone targets starting in 2030, with an interim objective in 2026;
• Require climate targets to be set 10 years in advance;
• Create a framework for detailed climate policy planning and progress reporting;
• Legislate a Net-Zero Advisory Body composed of diverse stakeholders and rights-holders to advise the Environment and Climate Change Minister on targets and plans;
• Require the Minister to consider the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in climate planning and target-setting;
• Mandate a legislative review of the Bill 5 years after its adoption.

Canada finally has a law that can deliver climate action and hold the federal government to account for building a safer, healthier, and more sustainable future for all.

In May 2020, Ecojustice lawyer Julia Croome was the lead author of A New Canadian Climate Accountability Act, which outlined how the federal government could introduce a law that could hold federal decision-makers in Canada accountable for reducing emissions.

Ecojustice then played a critical role in the introduction of Bill C-12 or the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. Our legal experts and supporters engaged with elected officials at every step of the political process as Bill C-12 made its way through the House of Commons and the Senate.

The legislative process, particularly in the context of a minority Parliament, offered opportunities to strengthen the legislation and establish the robust accountability measures needed to ensure Canada delivers on our global commitments and achieves net-zero emissions by 2050.

The multi-partisan approach to strengthening and passing Bill C-12 was no small victory, and it shows that when it comes to facing down the climate emergency politicians recognize that Canadians expect them to work together.

The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act is a crucial turning point for Canada’s legacy on climate action. In the grips of a climate crisis, Canada must take bold, brave, and progressive action for Canadians today and for generations yet to come.

This law implements a framework for the federal government to make the decisions necessary to get Canada to net-zero emissions — and be held to account for doing so.

Key developments

Press release

Groups welcome passage of Bill C-12

OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE - Today, the Senate passed the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accoun...

June 29, 2021


Bill C-12 passes and becomes law

Canada finally has a climate accountability framework — now we need to implement it. Canadians (and generations of Canadians to come) r...

June 29, 2021

Press release

Environmental groups celebrate adoption of Bill C-12 in House of Commons and call for quick passage through Senate

OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE - Environmental organizations Climate Action Network-Réseau Actio...

June 23, 2021

Press release

Environmental organizations urge swift passage of amended climate bill through Parliament

OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE - Environmental organizations Climate Action Network-Réseau Actio...

June 10, 2021

Press release

Federal parties need to seize opportunity to pass strong climate law

Climate accountability bill needs significant improvement to achieve net-zero emissions, experts warn OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITO...

May 5, 2021


Climate-legislation delay is causing a crisis of confidence

This article was originally published by iPolitics.  Legislation is stalled in Ottawa, and political parties have resorted to blaming ea...

March 29, 2021


Environmental law in Canada: three storylines to watch in 2021

It is a new year and the pandemic rages on. Yet hope is on the horizon. As the coronavirus vaccine rolls out across the country and gives...

January 13, 2021


A strong climate law for Canada – Answers to your questions about Bill C-12

On Nov. 12, people across Canada joined my colleague Tony Maas (Ecojustice’s director of legislative affairs) and I for a special Q+A clim...

November 25, 2020

Press release

Federal climate bill is significant first step on the path to net-zero

Ecojustice looks forward to working with all parties to make sure legislation is as effective as possible For immediate release: November...

November 19, 2020

Press release

Statement: Canada must deliver on climate change following Biden victory

Vancouver, B.C. – Ecojustice Climate Program Director Alan Andrews issued the following statement in response to Joe Biden’s election as...

November 10, 2020


Liberals must pass new Climate Accountability Act – or risk losing ground in climate fight

Last week, Ottawa agreed to allow Ontario Premier Doug Ford to move ahead with his woefully inadequate carbon pricing program plan, rather t...

October 6, 2020

Press release

Statement: Ecojustice reacts to Speech from the Throne

Feds must deliver on commitments to enviro legislation as soon as possible For immediate release: September 23, 2020 Ottawa, Ont. – ...

September 23, 2020

Press release

Sign-off on weak provincial climate plans points to need for better federal climate law

VANCOUVER – Canada’s decision to approve “weaker” climate plans from Ontario and New Brunswick points to serious loopholes in existi...

September 22, 2020


Canada can’t miss another target – we need a Canadian Climate Accountability Act

Update: On September 23, 2020, the federal government announced its new legislative agenda in the Speech from the Throne. In the speech, the...

June 19, 2020

Press release

Environmentalists demand a law to stop Canada’s cycle of broken climate promises

Report outlines recommendations for a new Canadian Climate Accountability Act For immediate release: June 16, 2020 Toronto – A coali...

June 16, 2020

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