Environment Minister to show Canadians his path to net zero emissions

Clay Curtis
November 21, 2020

Each of these targets reflects Canada's global commitments on carbon neutrality, and achieving them would mean that any carbon emissions produced in 2050 would be completely offset by environmental actions such as planting trees - up to 2 billion, according to the government.

"Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced if we want to reach this target", he added separately to reporters.

But the net-zero pledge is in line with what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is necessary to limit further global warming. That's why a growing number of companies and countries are factoring climate risk into their planning, and we believe the Government of Canada should be no exception.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, delivered on the Government's commitment to legislate Canada's goal of net zero by 2050, by tabling the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act in the House of Commons. The Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act the Liberal government tabled on Thursday morning could help guide the next 30 years of climate policy in Canada.

Many environment groups and opposition parties praised the legislation as a good first step but nearly all are dismayed the government did not set an interim five-year target for 2025.

The environment commissioner - an officer in the auditor general's office - would be charged with examining the implementation of the government's plan, while an advisory board would submit an annual report with advice for the minister.

The plan that Wilkinson lays out will be key to determining whether Canada finally manages to hit one of its emissions targets.

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But the measure contains no specifics, and successive Canadian governments have failed to reach the emissions reduction goals they have set.

"We are going to exceed our targets", Trudeau said, without offering more details. She said the bill promises to set targets but has nothing to actually meet them and no real teeth. It is apparent that Canada has not achieved their 2020 target and will possibly miss the 2025 target.

The David Suzuki Foundation, meanwhile, said Bill C-12 was a major step in meeting worldwide climate targets, and "broadly aligns with the gold-standard United Kingdom legislation, in place since 2008, which has played a role in the U.K.'s ability to hold leaders accountable, reduce polarization and drive down carbon emissions", according to a statement.

Canada has made several worldwide commitments to reduce its carbon pollution since 1992, but has overshot each one.

It will also, she said, require an enforcement mechanism that isn't just about targets, but setting out who decides if they have been met and what happens if they are not.

Environmental law charity Ecojustice said the bill showed the government was "taking the climate emergency seriously", noting it was the first time a federal government introduced legislation to hold itself accountable for emissions. "We need to fundamentally fix the way we do climate action in Canada because it is not working".

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