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Bill C-12 is an Essential Step Toward Net Zero

The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act was tabled today by Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. IISD commends the federal government for working to advance this legislation and continue tackling the climate crisis, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

November 19, 2020

Today marks an important step forward by the Canadian government to entrench climate change action into law with legally binding emissions targets to get Canada to net zero by 2050. IISD commends the federal government as it joins other leading countries with similar legislation, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark.

This sends a strong and much-needed signal to subnational governments, the private sector, and all Canadians that a transition to a net-zero economy is not only vital but already underway.

In particular, we applaud four strong elements:

  • Enshrining a 2050 net-zero commitment into law.
  • A well-defined management and accountability framework of five-year milestones, emission reduction plans, and transparent reporting requirements.
  • An independent advisory body to ensure our climate plans are ambitious and informed by science.
  • The new requirement to report on financial risks related to climate change across the federal government, guiding the “greening” of federal investments and providing clear signals to capital markets.

There’s work left to do to strengthen and support this accountability framework, including a new detailed plan to meet Canada’s 2030 target, sectoral pathways for our 2050 goals, a robust Just Transition Act, and a National Adaptation Plan.

As an accountability framework, the act does not include specific initiatives to get to net zero, such as the Green Industrial Revolution that Prime Minister Johnson called for in the United Kingdom’s 10-point plan earlier this week. Canada will need to move quickly to keep up, especially with the Biden climate plan taking shape in the United States. Our global obligations and international competitiveness are at stake.

But as governments across the globe face converging crises, Bill C-12 makes sure our climate goals are grounded in accountability and offers a stronger foundation on which to build a resilient recovery.