Newly tabled federal legislation would commit the Canadian government to set five-year targets and report progress in reaching the stated goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Bill C-12, introduced in the House of Commons yesterday, also includes requirements for an independent advisory body to advise the government on the transition to a low-carbon economy and hints that the Minister of Finance will employ the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework in mandated annual public reports.
As proposed, the first target will be set for 2030, followed by targets for 2035, 2040 and 2045. Along the way, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change will be required to: present an emissions reduction plan; report on its implementation and effectiveness; investigate and explain shortcomings in complying with the plan; and, if necessary, devise tactics to get back on track.
The proposed legislation also directs 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”. Canada signed on to the TCFD in March 2019.
“We need to continue to show that we are serious about meeting the future demands of global markets and that we understand the risks of a warming climate. By further supporting the direction that businesses have already been setting, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act will do exactly that,” maintains a government statement accompanying Bill C-12’s introduction.
The proposed advisory body would be tasked with examining the economic development potential in pursuing the net-zero emission targets and making recommendations about how best to tap into it. It will be asked to provide input on: the costs and opportunities of the transition period; environmental benefits; the state of technological readiness; and measures to support inclusiveness and public engagement.
“Reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions is what the science says we must achieve, and this 30-year project will require every future government to take actions to grow our economy while reducing emissions in every sector,” asserts Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.