The legislation, entitled the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, would require the current and future federal governments to set binding climate targets every five years and develop a credible plan to meet each commitment. If passed, future governments would have to report regularly on progress towards meeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
If passed, the legislation, C-12, would fulfill a Liberal election promise to be more aggressive at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach zero-net emissions by 2050. However, Climate Change Home points out that the legislation does not say how the government is planning to reduce emissions in the short term nor does it propose a new 2030 target.
The BBC also notes out that the bill does not provide any kind of enforcement mechanism, or attach any additional spending to achieve its goals. And they remind us that the federal government has failed to meet its environmental targets in the past, especially after then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2011.
To reach “net-zero” by 2050 would require scrubbing carbon from the atmosphere, either by technology, such as carbon capture and storage systems, or planting trees. CBC Canada is reporting the Liberals have promised to plant two billion trees.
On Thursday, Trudeau told reporters: “Climate change remains one of the greatest challenges of our times. During the last election, our government promised to legally bind Canada to its commitment to net zero emissions by 2050. This morning we delivered on that promise.”
The bottom line in all this is that the legislation has no teeth. The bill calls for an outside 15-member advisory board composed of climate experts, scientists, and Indigenous representatives, among others, who would meet to come up with strategies for setting targets and the best “sectoral strategies” for achieving net-zero.
The plan, when it is formulated, has to be tabled in Parliament, but right now, the plan would have to wait for nine months after the bill is passed through Parliament. This means that first target would be for the year 2030.