Government of Canada legislates climate accountability with first net-zero emissions law
June 30, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario
The best available science and economic analysis tells us that getting to net-zero emissions in the next 30 years is essential to avert the worst impacts of climate change and fully seize the economic opportunities that it presents. That’s why the Government of Canada has committed to reach net zero by 2050.
Yesterday, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, welcomed Royal Assent of the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, which has become law. It marks the first time a Canadian government has legislated emissions reductions accountability to address climate change, by setting legal requirements on the current government and future governments to plan, report, and course correct on the path to net-zero emissions by or before 2050.
More specifically, the Act:
- Enshrines in legislation Canada’s commitment to set national targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada with the objective of attaining net-zero emissions by 2050.
- Enshrines the 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target as being Canada’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, which will be 40-45% below 2005 levels, by 2030, as announced by Prime Minister Trudeau in April 2021. This new, more ambitious target will be formally submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change shortly.
- Requires the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to set the subsequent 2035, 2040 and 2045 targets at least 10 years in advance.
The Act also provides accountability and transparency by:
- Requiring an emissions reduction plan, a progress report, and an assessment report for each target to be tabled in both Houses of Parliament and made available to the public.
- Providing for public participation when setting or amending a target or plan.
- Formally establishing the Net-Zero Advisory Body as a Governor in Council-appointed body that will provide the Minister of Environment and Climate Change with independent advice on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
- Requiring the Minister of Finance to prepare an annual report respecting key measures that the federal public administration has taken to manage its financial risks and opportunities related to climate change.
- Requiring the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to, at least once every five years starting no later than the end of 2024, examine and report on the Government of Canada’s implementation of measures aimed at mitigating climate change.
- Providing for a comprehensive review of the Act, five years after it comes into force.
- Enshrining the role of Indigenous Knowledge in the climate accountability process.
Since it was introduced in November 2020, the Government of Canada has heard from Canadians from across the country and worked collaboratively with Members of Parliament to strengthen the Bill. The Act establishes Canada among global leaders in setting credible and achievable plans for reaching net-zero emissions.
In coming months, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change will publish an emissions reduction plan for the 2030 target. That plan will include an interim greenhouse gas objective for 2026. It will be followed by three progress reports submitted no later than the end of 2023, 2025 and 2027.
Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 is not just a plan for the environment, it is a plan to build a cleaner, more competitive economy. Canada is well-positioned to provide the world with the cleanest products and services that create good jobs for Canadians for decades to come. Budget 2021 and Canada’s strengthened climate plan lay the groundwork for a clean and prosperous future.
“We promised to legislate net-zero emissions by 2050 and put in place legally-binding targets, and yesterday we delivered on that promise. Canada’s new net-zero law provides the long-term confidence and certainty required to attract investment and ensure that Canadians are delivering products and services that will be in high demand the world over, now and well into the future. Climate change is the biggest long-term threat of our generation, but it is also the greatest economic opportunity.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Having net-zero emissions—where there are no greenhouse gas emissions or where emissions are completely offset by other actions that remove climate-warming gasses from the atmosphere—is essential to keeping the world safe and livable for future generations.
Canada has joined over 120 countries that have responded to the United Nations call to commit to net-zero emissions. This commitment mirrors the efforts of all other G7 nations (United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Japan, United States and France). Hundreds of cities around the world have also made their own net-zero commitments including Vancouver, Hamilton, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.
Canada is proud to have launched the Net-Zero Advisory Body in February 2021 to support early action on net zero. The Net-Zero Advisory Body has been actively working since its launch, including connecting with domestic and international experts.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
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