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.