Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act

An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050

Sponsor

Status

Second reading (House), as of Nov. 26, 2020

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-12.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment requires that national targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada be set, with the objective of attaining net-zero emissions by 2050. The targets are to be set by the Minister of the Environment for 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045.

In order to promote transparency and accountability in relation to meeting those targets, the enactment also

(a) requires that an emissions reduction plan, a progress report and an assessment report with respect to each target be tabled in each House of Parliament;

(b) provides for public participation;

(c) establishes an advisory body to provide the Minister of the Environment with advice with respect to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and matters that are referred to it by the Minister;

(d) requires 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; and

(e) requires the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to, at least once every 5 years, examine and report on the Government of Canada’s implementation of measures aimed at mitigating climate change.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:15 a.m.
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Labrador Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Yvonne Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Northern Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to speak in support of Bill C-12, which was presented in the House yesterday. I am very much in support of our government's commitment to making Canada a net-zero nation by 2050, because the urgency to act on the global climate crisis is real and the challenge of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is also an opportunity to build back our economy more competitively, more sustainably and more inclusively. Attracting investments and creating jobs will benefit all Canadians.

While the global pandemic has turned much of our world upside down, it has not changed our resolve to build a clean energy future and to make sure we are putting people at the heart of this transition. This is what I would like to focus on with my time today. Before I do that, I also want to say I will be sharing my time with the member for Sherbrooke. I look forward to hearing her comments.

Climate change may be measured in tonnes of greenhouse gases emitted or saved, but it is lived by families and communities. A just transition is where the importance of climate change and government policy positively intersects with the lives and livelihoods of all Canadians.

That is particularly true for those who have been especially hard hit by COVID-19 and the recession: women, youth, indigenous communities, immigrants, racialized people, people with disabilities, rural communities and northern communities, where I live. It is also true for so many workers and communities that are directly affected by the rapid transformation of the global energy sector, which is why creating good, well-paying jobs in the low-carbon economy is essential.

It is essential that we build a sustainable and prosperous future for Canada and all Canadians. How do we that? This is the question that lingers in the minds of many who support the initiatives we have introduced around climate change. How can we do more? How do we play a larger role?

A key starting place is to ensure workers have the right skills to succeed in the clean growth economy. As most know, I am a huge supporter of alternate energy development, but I am also a big supporter of the resource development sector in Canada, especially the mining industry. I know many of these companies are working hard to invest properly to ensure they have a clean growth economy. They are looking at alternatives for fuelling and powering their operations and reducing their carbon footprints.

For example, we are working with communities and workers who have been affected by the phasing out of coal-fired electricity, with meaningful action to diversify their economies and create new jobs. One way we are doing this is with $185 million in new federal funding to support coal-dependent communities, including $35 million for skills development and economic diversification.

Our government not only set targets and adapted a vigorous agenda around clean energy and climate change, but it is making the investments available so people, communities and companies can move forward in Canada to ensure that these happen.

The remainder of some $150 million within the Government of Canada is now earmarked for new infrastructure projects, and so far this year we have invested more than $22 million in 36 projects across Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. This funding has supported economic diversification initiatives in Leduc and Hanna, Alberta; a solar installation training program at Southeast College in Estevan, Saskatchewan; and similar projects in Atlantic Canada.

Right here in my hometown of Mary's Harbour, we are developing alternate energy to support and reduce the use of diesel generation in rural communities like the one I live in. This year, with a partnership from the federal government, we are the first remote community in Labrador to be able to combine hydro power and solar power to supplement, and reduce our dependency on, diesel and reduce our carbon footprint.

We are looking forward to doing projects like this in all communities that have become entirely dependent on diesel and move them off diesel dependency. This would include projects like the Glencore smelter and the Trevali closure diversification initiative in northern New Brunswick. We helped Ignite Labs in Nova Scotia, and we also announced that we were moving forward with the Atlantic loop. The Atlantic loop will connect surplus clean power to regions that are moving away from coal. It is a classic win-win that makes electricity more affordable as we create new jobs for workers and their communities.

I live in a region in Labrador that is one of the largest generators of hydro power. The Atlantic loop provides an opportunity for us to continue to fuel the economy with clean energy through massive development projects, such as those at Gull Island.

We are looking forward to the opportunities this provides, not just for Newfoundland and Labrador and Atlantic Canada, but for all Canadians. We see it as a real win-win situation and are happy that the Government of Canada, our government, is moving forward with the Atlantic loop.

That is just one example of how we are putting people at the heart of this energy transition. [Technical difficulty—Editor]

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:25 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I hesitated to interrupt the hon. parliamentary secretary, but I think her speech demonstrated the lack of good Internet in her community. There were many gaps. I would ask if the clerks at the table would consider allowing her to provide her full remarks so the gaps could be replaced in the Hansard, because we missed quite a lot of what she had to say.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Energy efficiency is another example. By working with Canadians to retrofit their homes with better windows, appliances and insulation, and with smarter grids and building codes, they are seeing the benefits of the energy transition in their own homes. The benefits include lower monthly utility bills and more comfortable homes, all while creating thousands of good jobs and dramatically reducing our emissions.

Here is a theme I keep coming back to: creating good, green jobs as we drive environmental performance. That has been central to our government’s economic response to COVID-19, including more than $1.7 billion to help clean up orphan and inactive oil and gas wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. This investment is helping as many as 10,000 hard-working Canadians to find ways to put their skills to use, while demonstrating Canadian leadership on climate change and environmental stewardship.

For the same reason, we have announced a new $750-million emissions reduction fund, $320 million to assist the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore industry and $100 million for the Clean Resource Innovation Network. This funding will help make Canada’s oil and gas sector the cleanest in the world, so that good energy jobs are also green energy jobs and so that our move toward a net-zero economy leaves no one behind.

We recognize the vital role that Canada’s petroleum sector plays here at home and around the world. We are investing in these communities to help them achieve their net-zero targets while ensuring their long-term success. We also recognize the need to nurture talent in the oil and gas sector. We are working with industry, provinces and territories to transform this key pillar of Canada’s economy. Further, we are making other generational investments to bring together economic growth and environmental protection. This includes new funding for smart grids, carbon capture and storage, and the next wave of batteries, made right here in Canada.

We are creating good jobs in wind and solar energy, and emerging sources of clean energy such as tidal and geothermal. We have put together a made-in-Canada action plan for small modular reactors and a strategy for Canada to become a global leader in the clean production of hydrogen. We will drive the clean growth economy by making zero-emissions vehicles more affordable and investing in more charging stations across the country.

We are setting a clear course for our net-zero future that enlists all Canadians. We have been incorporating indigenous knowledge and engaging meaningfully on how we review major energy projects, as well as supporting indigenous participation in and ownership of these projects. This fair and just transition will be smart and inclusive.

Our recent Speech from the Throne doubled down on our promise to exceed our Paris commitments by the end of this decade and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. It also launched our campaign to create over one million jobs, restoring employment to pre-pandemic levels and higher. We are ensuring Canadians have good jobs they can rely on, particularly those hit hardest by the global pandemic. We are making direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, providing immediate training to quickly skill up workers and offering incentives for employers to hire and retain workers.

We are aware that to be successful, our climate plan must put all Canadians, and all communities, at the heart of our efforts. Indeed the Throne Speech was clear on this. It stated:

Canada cannot reach net zero without the know-how of the energy sector, and the innovative ideas of all Canadians, including people in places like British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

This pledge to empower all Canadians includes getting more women working as employees and executives in the energy sector. We simply cannot afford to leave half of our workforce on the sidelines as we embrace a future built on innovation, ingenuity and imagination. Studies show that energy companies that have diverse leadership are more innovative and profitable. We can and should do better. We are taking action to advance gender equality through the Equal by 30 campaign. We are promoting women in the energy sector at various international bodies such as the G7, the Clean Energy Ministerial and elsewhere, not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is the smart thing to do. It is just good business. To date, more than 150 companies, governments and organizations have signed on to the Equal by 30 campaign. They are making important commitments towards equal pay, equal opportunities and equal leadership for women.

While we are proud of our record of engaging and including Canadians in this fundamental transformation of our energy systems, we know that there is still more to do. We are prepared to do the heavy lifting to achieve net-zero emissions, grow our national economy and realize a clean energy future that leaves no one behind. Canadians ask no more and they deserve no less.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Madam Speaker, I would like to get a few comments from the parliamentary secretary on pricing. This government appears to be making affordable energy seem costly, and thereby give the illusion that its policy is somehow affordable.

Let us talk about the Atlantic loop. We all know the hydro coming online in Labrador is going to be very expensive compared with the alternatives. The government has proposed sharing that very expensive power with the rest of Atlantic Canada.

Could the member talk about her government's plan to ensure ratepayers throughout Atlantic Canada, and in my home province of New Brunswick in particular, do not get socked with high prices because of the government's policy and being forced to buy power through the Atlantic loop?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Madam Speaker, substituting power under the Atlantic loop does not necessarily mean using power that is already available through Muskrat Falls, which he quotes as higher-priced power. It includes the opportunity to develop additional power sources, whether in Labrador, other parts of Atlantic Canada or central Canada. Those are the things that will be considered. The Atlantic loop is about replacing [Technical difficulty—Editor] affordability of that power to citizens.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:30 a.m.
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Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the government representative a question about the targets, which are not included in Bill C-12.

Immediately following the Paris Agreement in 2016, the first ministers met and issued what is known as the Vancouver declaration on clean growth and climate change, which states, and I quote:

First Ministers commit to:

Implement GHG mitigation policies in support of meeting or exceeding Canada's 2030 target of a 30% reduction below 2005 levels of emissions, including specific provincial and territorial targets and objectives;

Why is there nothing in the bill about specific targets and objectives?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Madam Speaker, I got most of my colleague's question. I apologize if I miss the mark here, because it did cut in and out.

I think as a government we have demonstrated we are prepared to do the heavy lifting to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030. We have launched a campaign to do so. To date, we have already had more than 150 companies [Technical difficulty—Editor]. We will continue to improve on those as we go.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased that we are discussing moving towards a massive reduction of carbon emissions. It is necessary.

My concern is that I have been in the House since the days when Stéphane Dion was telling us about the great plan for Kyoto. Year in and year out, emissions rose under Stephen Harper and under the Liberal government.

When I see the Prime Minister reach out to Joe Biden and say that he is promoting Keystone XL, I ask myself how serious the government is if it is promoting a dead-dog project like Keystone XL that is going to massively increase our greenhouse gas emissions and sending the message to the Americans that we are not serious.

When is the government going to get serious on moving off the oil sands and moving to a clear, credible transition?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Madam Speaker, I must apologize. I actually actually lost the whole system during the middle of the member's question. I sincerely apologize.

I would say to him that I know this is an issue that he is very concerned about, around climate change. We would certainly expect the member's support on this bill, as he has championed many of the things included in this bill in the past.

Again, I apologize, and I appreciate the intervention by the Leader of the Green Party, in supporting me in improving my Internet access here in Labrador. We are well on the road to trying to do that, but as members know, it is a long—

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Since the member did not hear my question, I think it would only be fair that I get a chance to repeat the question. That way, we would get it very clearly on the record, the lack of action from the Liberal government on Keystone XL.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:30 a.m.
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Sherbrooke Québec

Liberal

Élisabeth Brière LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Labrador for his speech.

With the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, the government is introducing a bill that will help fight the extreme risks associated with climate change.

The science is clear. Human activity is causing unprecedented changes in the Earth's climate. Climate change poses serious threats to the health and safety of humans, to the environment, including biodiversity, and to economic growth.

Canada's climate is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet's. In our northern regions, it is warming three times faster. We can see the effects of that warming in many parts of Canada, and they will only intensify over time.

These changes have many consequences. For example, scientists expect higher average precipitation in most of Canada. The availability of fresh water is changing, and the likelihood of water shortages in the summer is growing. A warmer climate will intensify some extreme weather conditions, such as heat waves and floods.

Canadians are already feeling the effects of climate change and extreme weather events, including the increasing intensity and frequency of flooding, storms, fires, coastal erosion, extreme heat events, melting permafrost and rising sea levels.

These effects pose a significant risk to the safety, health and well-being of all Canadians, our communities, our economy and our natural environment. It is important to ensure that Canadians are protected against the risks associated with climate change.

Reaching net zero by 2050 is vitally important to mitigating the risks of climate change, not only for Canada but on a global scale. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that meeting that target is essential if we want to limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reduce the risks associated with climate change.

Limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C is especially important because it will have a considerable impact on the effects of climate change on all fronts, compared to a potential global temperature increase of 2°C.

Limiting warming to 1.5°C would give us additional options to adapt to the effects of climate change. When Canada ratified the Paris Agreement, it committed to setting and communicating its ambitious national objectives and undertaking ambitious national measures to mitigate climate change in order to meet them.

I would like to remind members that the Paris Agreement seeks to strengthen efforts to hold the increase in the average global temperature to well below 2°C and, if possible, to limit it to 1.5°C. Currently, Canada's nationally determined contribution, communicated in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is its target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The government is determined to meet this target, and even exceed it.

The government has also committed to developing a plan to set Canada on a path to achieve a prosperous net-zero-emissions future by 2050, supported by public participation, including provincial and territorial governments as well as expert advice. Canadians know full well that climate change threatens their health, their way of life and the planet. They want climate action now, and that is what the government will continue to do by immediately introducing a plan that will enable Canada to exceed its 2030 climate targets and legislation that will aim for net-zero emissions by 2050.

Before the government can reach its net-zero targets, it must first engage in a process that takes into account the considerations of the populations most affected by climate change. Although Canada's indigenous peoples and northern communities are exceptionally resilient, they are also particularly vulnerable because of such factors as their remoteness and inaccessibility, the cold climate, aging and ineffective infrastructure, and reliance on diesel-based systems to generate electricity and heat homes.

That is why the government is determined to move forward with the approach based on the recognition of rights reflected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In fact, the government will introduce a bill to implement the declaration by the end of the year.

The government is also commited to strengthening its collaboration with Canada's indigenous peoples when it comes to climate mitigation measures. This commitment builds on existing initiatives. The government is contributing financially and collaborating on first nations, Métis and Inuit projects to monitor climate change in indigenous communities, build resilient infrastructure, prepare and implement climate change adaptation strategic plans or even develop green energy options that will help reduce dependence on diesel.

The plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 would also contribute to making the Canadian economy more resilient, more inclusive and more competitive. With a view to creating a stronger and resilient Canada in the wake of this pandemic, climate action will be the cornerstone of our plan to support and create one million jobs across the country.

Regardless of the global challenges associated with the current pandemic, climate change continues to worsen, and there is little doubt that 2020 will be one of the warmest years on record.

It is important to recognize that climate change is a global problem that requires an immediate response from all governments in Canada, as well as from industry, non-governmental organizations and Canadians.

However, the government recognizes the important collective and individual efforts that have already been made and wants to support this momentum to mitigate climate change. For example, as of 2024, the Société de transport de Sherbrooke will be using new electric buses with a view to completely replacing its bus fleet to make it green. I congratulate the municipal council and Marc Denault, chair of the STS board of directors, for this initiative.

I also want to mention the important work of the Conseil régional de l'environnement de l'Estrie and of Jacinthe Caron, whom I have met several times. They are behind several green projects including the Embarque Estrie platform, which identifies public and active transportation options in the region on a web map. This type of initiative shows that it is possible to make a collective contribution to climate change mitigation and to work together.

Furthermore, not too long ago, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change jointly announced a $100-million investment in the clean resource innovation network to support research and development projects that advance the environmental and economic performance of the oil and gas sector.

Working across government will be an important part of our efforts to mitigate climate change. That is why the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act provides for consultations with federal ministers having duties and functions relating to the measures that may be taken to achieve the greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act will further our efforts to mitigate climate change by setting national climate change mitigation targets based on the best available science and by promoting transparency and accountability in relation to achieving those targets. Concretely, this bill will create a legally binding process to set and achieve climate targets, and require assessment reports, climate plans and examinations by the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development.

This bill will help Canada achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and meet our international climate change mitigation commitments.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, listening to both the hon. member's speech and the speeches of some of her colleagues, the way they talk about our energy industry is troubling. I am proud to represent a region of this country that has world-class energy producers. Those hard-working women and men have contributed greatly to Canada's economy. They have world-class environmental protections and the most ethically produced energy in the world, so I take issue with the fact that the government continues to attack Canadian energy, oil and gas.

My question is simple. Does the member acknowledge that Canada already has the most ethically and environmentally produced energy in the world?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Élisabeth Brière Liberal Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I respect my colleague's concern.

As we have said from the beginning, we cannot achieve net-zero emissions without the energy sector's ingenuity and know-how. A number of Canadian oil and gas companies have already committed to net-zero emissions, and they are innovating to meet that challenge.

Canadians, industry, international markets and oil and gas companies know that achieving net-zero emissions is good for our economy and our environment, and we are taking action to get there.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:45 a.m.
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Bloc

Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

I am sure she is committed to fighting climate change, but I have my doubts about her government, just as I did during last night's emergency debate on the French language, which I watched. There were a lot of good intentions and fine words. The government says that it is going to take action and that it is going to do this or that, but nothing much actually gets done.

One of the key promises the Liberal government made a year ago was to plant two billion trees. We saw the Prime Minister taking selfies with Greta Thunberg and that sort of thing. Things were really going to get moving. Two billion trees is a lot, but I would imagine that a lot of trees can be planted in a year.

My question is simple. Since the Liberal Party was elected, how many trees have been planted in Canada, and how many of those were planted in Quebec?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2020 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Élisabeth Brière Liberal Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

For years now, ever since 2015, our government has been taking concrete action to protect the environment. Some of those measures include eliminating single-use plastics, buying hybrid buses, which I talked about in my speech, installing more charging stations, increasing protected areas from 13% to 25%, making significant investments in green infrastructure and introducing measures to encourage businesses to invest in clean energy.

Those are all concrete actions our government has taken over the past few years, and that is what we will continue to do.