Bill C-12: Federal government must ramp up climate action before 2030

bill c12 Canadian net zero emissions accountability act

On November 19, the Trudeau government introduced Bill C-12, which would make Canada’s commitment to getting to net-zero emissions by 2050 legally binding.  The “Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act” would require the government to set targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions targets and report annually on progress on the path to 2050. It also provides for an expert advisory committee.  This is an important step in our journey towards net-zero emissions and KAIROS Canada commends the federal government for delivering this key piece of legislation for climate accountability, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Canada does not have a great track record when it comes to meeting our greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets. We are currently on track to miss the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. And this target does not even meet a fair share contribution for Canada to reduce emissions globally. To meet its fair share contribution, Canada must see a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030.  The 2018 IPCC report signalled to the world that actions taken before 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C will help to limit catastrophic impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity, and climate-induced displacement. 

Missing another target is unacceptable as the planet has reached a point of no return when it comes to climate change.  We must ensure accountability and ramp up ambition in our emissions reduction targets in the near term.   

As Bill C-12 now moves through the parliamentary review process, KAIROS Canada urges the government to strengthen the language and timelines in this legislation so it can support Canada in achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.  Our recommendations are informed by the Five Pillars of Canadian Climate Accountability Act put forward by Climate Action Network-Canada (CAN-Rac) and its members. Furthermore, we urge the federal government to adopt CAN-Rac’s high-level recommendations for Bill C-12 and emphasize the following: 

  • Set the first “milestone year” to 2025.  The act sets its first deadline for 2030 but we know that our actions in the next 10 years to limit global warming by 1.5°C matter the most.  Canada must maximize ambition as soon as possible. 
  • Set a legal obligation to meet the established targets. Bill C-12 binds the government to set targets but does not bind the government to meet those targets. This legislation must actually hold the government to account by prescribing robust minimum standards for planning and reporting, and impose a legal obligation to meet the established targets. 
  • Legislate implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Bill C-12 must reflect Canada’s commitment to enacting the UN Declaration and must include means by which Indigenous peoples can be full participants in climate action.   
  • Support a just transition. Climate accountability legislation must also make the connection with a just transition, with targets for job creation in the net-zero emissions economy.  

With Bill C-12, Canada joins other leading countries with climate accountability legislation, including the UK, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark. By adopting the above recommendations, MPs can ensure Bill C-12 provides a strong foundation to achieving net-zero emissions, while promoting the integrity of the planet and the dignity of all peoples. 

Filed in: Ecological Justice


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