Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act
The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act delivers on the Government of Canada’s commitment to legislate Canada’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Act will establish a legally binding process to set five-year national emissions-reduction targets for 2030, 2035, 2040, and 2045, as well as develop credible, science-based emissions-reduction plans to achieve each target. The Act was introduced in the House of Commons by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on November 19, 2020.
Each target will be based on the best available scientific information and reflect Canada’s international climate-change commitments. National emissions-reduction plans must contain the greenhouse-gas-emissions target for the year to which the plan relates; a description of the key emissions-reduction measures the Government of Canada intends to take to achieve its greenhouse-gas-emissions target; a description of any relevant sectoral strategies; and a description of emissions-reduction strategies for federal government operations.
National emissions-reduction plans must also explain how the measures and the strategies outlined in the plan will contribute to Canada achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. These plans will reflect Canada’s unique circumstances, including our demographics, our geography, our economy, our constitutional obligations to uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and shared federal-provincial-territorial jurisdiction.
Once finalized, the legislation will require the Government of Canada to bring forward the first plan mandated under this new legislation, for the 2030 target, within 6 months of the Act receiving royal assent.
Accountability and Reporting
The Act will hold the Government of Canada to account by requiring the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to report to Parliament with respect to each national emissions target. These reports will include the following:
- Emissions-reduction plans to achieve the targets.
- Interim progress reports to update on the ongoing implementation and effectiveness of reduction plans.
- Final assessment reports to indicate whether a target has been met and assess the effectiveness of the associated plan.
In the event of a missed target, the Act will mandate the Government of Canada to assess the reasons for its failure to meet the target. Specifically, the Minister must table a report outlining the reasons why Canada failed to meet the target and describing the actions the Government will take or is taking to address the failure to achieve the target. This robust parliamentary accountability and transparency will ensure that the Government of Canada is held accountable for achieving these climate objectives. Beyond tabling reports in Parliament, the Act calls on the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to examine and report on the Government’s implementation of climate-change mitigation measures at least once every five years. This measure will ensure rigorous oversight of the Government’s milestone plans and progress toward implementation.
The Act will require the Minister of Finance, in cooperation with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, to publish an annual report outlining key measures that federal departments and crown corporations have taken to manage the financial risks and opportunities related to climate change. This means that every department and all federal crown corporations will include climate risks and opportunities in their planning, leading to better decisions that invest in a safer, cleaner, and more prosperous Canada.
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