Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, (the NZ Bill) passed third reading in the House of Commons late yesterday evening. The NZ Bill was introduced last November, and if enacted will require national targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050. This bulletin provides a brief overview of the NZ Bill and next steps:
Emissions reduction targets and plans. The NZ Bill provides for emissions reduction targets to be set by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (the Minister) every five years, starting in 2030. The Minister must also establish an emissions reduction plan for each milestone year, indicating how Canada will meet the corresponding target. Each plan must also, inter alia, provide a description of relevant sectoral strategies, how international commitments are taken into account, and emissions reduction strategies for federal government operations; and provide projections of annual GHG emission reductions for each economic sector that Canada includes under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Net-Zero Advisory Board. The NZ Bill would establish the Advisory Board to provide independent advice to the Minister on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and each five-year milestone. The Advisory Board will provide advice on GHG emissions targets; GHG emissions reduction plan, including measure and sectoral strategies that the government could implement to achieve GHG emissions targets; and any other matter referred to it by the Minister. The Advisory Board is to be composed of members with expertise in, or knowledge of climate change science; Indigenous knowledge; relevant physical and social sciences; climate change and climate policy at the national, subnational, and international levels; energy supply and demands; and relevant technologies.
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. At least every five years, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development will be required to examine and report on the government’s implementation of measures to meet net-zero emissions by 2050 (including achieving each five-year target) and actions taken to mitigate the effects of climate change, and may provide recommendations for improving effectiveness.
Amendments. Amendments to the NZ Bill contained in the version passed by the House of Commons at third reading include, among others, mandating an interim GHG emissions objective to be set for 2026; directing the Minister to take account of Indigenous knowledge and submissions by the Net-Zero Advisory Board (the Advisory Board) when setting targets; and mandating the Minister to take account of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when establishing emissions reduction plans.
Next steps. The NZ Bill will now move to the Senate for consideration and study. The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, yesterday tabled its pre-study report on the NZ Bill