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.
But Canada has missed every emissions-reduction target it has ever set. A strong climate law would make the current Liberal federal government and all future governments accountable for reducing emissions and achieving net-zero by 2050.
During the 2019 federal election, the Liberals campaigned on a strong climate platform and promised to drastically reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In November 2020, the federal government tabled Bill C-12 Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, which aims to put Canada on the path to net-zero by 2050.
The introduction of this bill is a significant step forward in tackling the climate crisis. It makes net-zero by 2050 a legally-binding target and starts to map a pathway for Canada to achieve this.
Without a strong climate law, Canada will be left behind by other countries that have passed similar legislation.
However, Bill C-12 as drafted will not reach the level of accountability needed in order to deliver sustained action on climate change, avoid yet more missed climate targets and secure a safer and healthier future for all Canadians.
Ecojustice is now working with all parties to make sure Bill C-12 is the strongest law possible.
Strong climate laws are essential to tackling the climate emergency. They have worked in other countries and they can work in Canada too. The United Kingdom set the benchmark for a climate law that holds the government accountable for reducing emissions. Since passing the Climate Change Act in 2008, the UK has managed to reduce its GHG emissions to 44 per cent below 1990 levels.
In May 2020, Ecojustice lawyer Julia Croome was the lead author of A New Canadian Climate Accountability Act that outlined how the federal government could introduce a law that would mirror the UK example and hold federal decision-makers in Canada accountable for reducing emissions.
The legislative process, particularly in the context of the current minority Parliament, offers opportunities to strengthen the legislation and establish the robust accountability needed to ensure Canada delivers on our global commitments and sustains the steady action needed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
A victory would enshrine a law that will hold governments accountable for achieving Canada’s climate targets and greatly reduce the emissions that put Canadians’ future at risk. Bill C-12 must also provide meaningful accountability “checkpoints” during the next 10 years – a period deemed crucial by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for avoiding catastrophic climate change.