Bill C-12 (Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act) is certainly a step taken in the right place. Having received its first reading on November 19th, Bill C-12 will hold the government legally accountable for its plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The successive “five year plans”and the introduction of an independent advisory body, too, will ensure that the Bill is the most aggressive efforts by any Canadian administration to tackle climate change yet.
However, the current efforts are far from enough. The key flaw in the Bill is that its first “milestone” target is set in 2030. This not only will lead to potential derailment of the plan by administrations that are less “enthusiastic” about climate action down the road but will also free the Trudeau administration of any blame as it will most likely not be in power by then. The lack of accountability throughout the Bill, too, poses a serious challenge to enforcing aggressive emission reduction efforts. According to the Bill, an independent body will be appointed by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to advise the government on the matter. Two key issues present here are that: A. The sole fact that the Minister has the power to nominate the members will not make it truly “independent”. B. The lack of power of the body will prevent it from having any real accountability on the governmental policies. Last but not least, Premiers from certain provinces will attempt to block the Bill in their provinces, making enforcing it almost impossible.
To counter these obstacles, CYACA proposes 2 year increments for “milestone” targets between now and 2030 for the government to set self-accounting and ambitious climate goals in line with both our commitment to the Paris Agreement and carbon neutrality. Furthermore, we believe that not only should the advisory body to the Minister be strengthened in its legal power but that the members of the body should be voted by the Parliament instead. In this case, we could promote a diverse array of voices on the body holding the government accountable to its ambitions while reflecting both the Canadian diversity and the provincial needs federally. To achieve these goals, CYACA will work with relevant parties to push for changes to Bill C-12.