LASER TALK: The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act (C12)


LASER TALK: The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act (C12)[1]


Introduced On Thursday, November 19, 2020, for the first time a climate accountability bill was introduced by the government of the day in Canada.


Canada was the only country to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol (2011) and has never met a UN climate target. We do not have national laws requiring us to do so.
Celebrate This is an historical moment. When passed, especially with improvements, it could go a long way to breaking the cycle of climate unaccountability. 
The Good C12 enshrines GHG targets to get to net-zero by 2050 and thus enables legislation to be formalized. It mandates the government table a “reduction plan” and “progress report” for each target, and creates a special panel to advise the minister. The government must table its plans at least 5 years before the next target is due, and the first plan for 2030 must be tabled within six months of the bill coming into force. The Liberals have pledged to exceed our Paris Target of 30% of 2005 by 2030 too.
Needs Improvement C12 needs a 2025 target, and plans on how to get there. It also needs carbon budgets. Worrisomely, C12 does not impose a duty on the federal government to meet its national GHG targets. There are “strategies” but nothing is “mandatory.” Over the next few months we will work with MPs, and other NGOs to determine what specific changes will be needed. There might be constitutional and political reasons for its current design. We must be patient and anticipate a lot of complicated and uncomfortable conversations.
Potential Pushback Currently, there is a constitutional debate and nation-to-nation relationship discrepancies over the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act at the Supreme Court of Canada. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick are challenging the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and so are Indigenous nations. We can anticipate pushback again for climate accountability.
Opportunity We have an opportunity to shape legislation that will impact generations to come. It everyone’s right under Article 12 of the Paris Agreement to enhance climate legislation. It is also the right of every child under the UN Rights of the Child to have a say in the decisions that affect them. 


[1] The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act  19 Nov. 2020


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