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

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

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;

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

(f) provides for a comprehensive review of the Act five years after its coming into force.

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.

Votes

June 22, 2021 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050
June 22, 2021 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050
June 22, 2021 Passed Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 (report stage amendment - Motion No. 2; Group 1; Clause 22)
June 22, 2021 Passed Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 (report stage amendment - Motion No. 1; Group 1; Clause 7)
May 4, 2021 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050
May 4, 2021 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 (reasoned amendment)
April 27, 2021 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her work on this bill.

However, I have to say that, in Bill C‑215, the Bloc Québécois was fine with a target that was 30% below Canada's 2005 greenhouse gas emissions. Our government voted against that inadequate target and went well beyond what the Bloc suggested. During the climate summit hosted by the U.S., we announced a new reduction target that would bring us to between 40% and 45% below 2005 levels. That is good news for members of the House of Commons and for all Canadians.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague and friend for his speech. We sit on the all-party climate caucus together.

He talked a lot about what the government has been doing and gave a long list of important work that needs to happen regarding climate mitigation. The government touts the nature legacy program budget that it just rolled out of $2.3 billion over five years, but in comparison, it is spending $17 billion on the Trans Mountain pipeline. That is seven times what it is spending on conservation financing. We know that many indigenous communities are looking for financing for indigenous-protected areas to protect ancient old growth and estuaries and watersheds, which are critical to wild salmon, as we know. Does my colleague not agree that there is an imbalance here and that the government needs to invest quickly?

Yesterday a constituent of mine, Zan Callison, a young activist, noted the sense of urgency when it comes to protecting these critical ecosystems. Does my colleague not agree that we need to do more and urgently?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague, in all sincerity, for his passion on this issue. It was a pleasure, as he pointed out, serving on that committee with him.

The one thing I will say is that we need to do more and we are doing more. I am unbelievably proud of the record investments that we have put in place, and not just for climate mitigation. There is also the billions of dollars, including $4 billion in this most recent budget, to protect nature and ensure that we can reach the target of protecting 25% of our nature by 2025. This is not just a climate issue. We also need to protect these areas for species at risk and to ensure that we are leaving these areas for future generations of Canadians—

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure tonight to rise again in the House as the member for Calgary Centre and speak for perhaps the last time in this Parliament, if we hear what the government is saying correctly, which is that the Liberals are probably going to the polls at the end of this summer, but that is for another night.

I would like to speak tonight about Bill C-12, an act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.

I remember when the bill first came before Parliament. We did our jobs as parliamentarians. We read the bill and we looked at the bill, and a lot of us supported the bill because of what it represented, but we did our job as opposition parliamentarians, not just as parliamentarians on the government side. We looked at it and said that we have to pick our spots here about what we criticize, what we work with the government on and how we move these advances forward.

When the bill was introduced, I looked at its words and what it seemed to indicate as its intent: to hold governments accountable for reaching assigned climate change targets. All things considered, how could I not support government accountability?

Frankly, it is the absolute greatest failure of the government for the past six years. “Accountability” is not a word that seems to be understood by this weak government.

Let us talk about accountability in this debate on the environment. In the Liberals' six years in government, we have seen six increases in greenhouse emissions. We have seen more and more failed experiments through misguided interventions, and I note the excess spending in the department and in contracts with so many self-interested non-governmental organizations. Billions of excess spending went out the door to unaccountable, connected organizations that are accomplishing nothing but are being very well paid in the process.

Let us look at another example of virtue over objectives and results. Let us talk about two billion trees. How long ago did the government promise two billion trees? This year it is saying that this year it will actually plant 30 million trees. That is pretty good, but if we think about how many trees Canada actually has, we realize that it is hundreds of billions. This is a very small measurement, and it is accomplishing next to nothing. This is something that is more virtue over results. We actually need some results on the environment, and we need to get there as quickly as possible with some real programs.

At first reading, I stood and supported the bill because it provided an accountability mechanism for a misleading, unaccomplished government. The veil came off that pretty quickly. The bill allows the Minister of Environment to appoint 14 representatives to a net-zero advisory board. They were already appointed prior to this legislation even being passed by the House, and it still has another House to go. The minister already has all his people picked out and put there, but it is also quite a power amassment by the Minister of Environment. Let us look at what he has done with his last power grab. Under the Impact Assessment Act, effectively he is the decider of every project that happens in Canada right now, whether or not it is provincial or federal jurisdiction.

This is something that is continuous. It is very clear that the minister is trying to get more and more decision-makers involved with his department and that he wants to make all the decisions for the government unilaterally. This is not the way Canada has been governed.

This board was constituted before the legislation even existed. It is a good thing that we took a good look at who is on the board. I will just go through one of the people, and I fully confess that I know two of the members on the board. I worked with them before, and they are actually pretty good members. However, I do not think two out of 14 are necessarily going to be holding the boat. There are some who seem to be quite obstructionist, so to speak, and the result is going to speak for itself at some point in time when the board comes to a conflict.

The executive director, Catherine Abreu of the Climate Action Network, is one of the appointees. What is her skill? She is an award-winning campaigner. That is fantastic. A campaigner is on a government-appointed board now.

Ms. Abreu believes we need to manage the swift decline of Canada's oil and gas industry, which is Canada's biggest industry, Canada's biggest contributor to taxes and Canada's biggest employer. That is great. We are just going to manage the swift decline of that industry rather than work with it to find out how we actually reduce carbon emissions. That is a good move.

What is this organization the Climate Action Network? It is a coalition of more than 100 organizations, including Clean Energy Canada, which all these others seem to collect around, and for some reason they need to fund an organization that oversees them. Who are they funded by? They are funded by each of the non-governmental organizations that is also funded by the government. It is a big circle of money pooling around, and eventually the taxpayer pays for it all, but let us follow the money. Environment and Climate Change Canada is the funder of many of these organizations. For a government department to spend tens of millions of dollars over budget and tens of millions of dollars more on external contracts for consultants is an embarrassment. This is where the money is going. It is all connected friends who are being paid in this process.

This reminds me of last summer and the Task Force for a Resilient Recovery: that bold environmental initiative from summer 2020. Of course, we cannot find a record of what it did or why it recommended what it did, but quite famously 15 individuals from 15 government-funded organizations came together quickly in the midst of a pandemic to not let this opportunity pass. “This opportunity” was the pandemic and people dying, because thousands of people died to allow them to move their agenda forward.

Those are scary comments. Parliament was shut down. Canadians were locked down. Were there meetings with these 15 organizations and these 15 individuals? Was external input sought? Did the Canadian economy or Canadian society participate in this report or these meetings? What about health care workers, teachers, businessmen, engineers, farmers, processors, technologists, workers, legalists and indigenous organizations? There was no input whatsoever. It was actually a whitewash of one professor's academic pursuit.

Stewart Elgie, of the Smart Prosperity Institute, drove it forward with one document. Who were some of the other partners in this? I will read them off: the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Efficiency Canada, the Transition Accelerator, the Institute for Sustainable Finance, Clean Energy Canada, Environmental Defence Canada, Corporate Knights, the Stockholm Environment Institute, Environment and Climate Change Canada, again funding itself, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and the Broadbent Institute. As well, a number of other institutes that are all funded by government come together here under the helm of none other than Gerald Butts: that beacon of transparent, democratic government.

If we look closely enough at all these organizations we will see significant overlap in boards, management and mandate. They love government money. Therefore, another circle of government-funded organizations gathered together to recommend more government spending on their initiatives. Members should not look for the report. It is not available, but we can see its recommendations, sometimes word for word and billion dollars for billion dollars, in the last throne speech and in this year's budget. It is government policy by a highly paid, self-interested Star Chamber. This is democracy under the current Liberal government. Are conflicts disclosed? They are not at all.

Bill C-12 proposes to ensconce this unaccountable, self-interested, conflicted decision-making body as an instrument in Canada's environmental decision-making. Indeed, some members of this board were involved in the Task Force for a Resilient Recovery. “Thanks for the deceitful work,” says the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, “Canadians will thank you with an endless stream of unaccountable funds.”

Bill C-12, supposedly about accountability of government, is in fact a removal of accountability of government. Members should follow the money. The government's friends are getting more expensive.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, I would like to say to the member that Catherine Abreu was here in Nova Scotia and doing excellent work for the environment for a number of years. When I was an MLA for 10 years, I was very impressed with her knowledge.

Does the member actually know what her background is, or is he just choosing her out of a hat to make fun of for some particular reason?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, that was a strange question. This is not fun. I did not pick her name out of a hat. I am only reporting what was said in the paper about the person's qualifications and why she stood to be on this board. I do not know where she is coming from that. I know there was a reason she was picked to be on the board. I know what she said in public, as far as the Canadian economy goes, and I know she has been involved very much in trying to end one of the economic engines of the Canadian economy without accountability.

That is what is wrong with the government, frankly. It is the lack of accountability.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:55 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. The Liberals keep saying that they listen to scientists and experts, but they gave the committee just a few hours to hear from witnesses, including scientists and environmentalists who came to talk to us about the issue, what needs to be done, why there is a climate emergency and the importance of having a climate act. In other words, that is a bit rich coming from them.

I know the Conservatives really did their part in the debates. I would like to know what they would have liked to see in Bill C‑12 that would have made it more transparent, as the title suggests, more binding, and more demanding of accountability from whichever government is in power after the promulgation of a climate act like the one Bill C‑12 will become.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia for her question. It is a good question. I am still looking for the bill's raison d'être and trying to understand why it is before Parliament now. Given its contents, I do not know why it is before Parliament, because it does nothing for the environment. I think we need to do better for the environment. We need to do something better for our future.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, one of my favourite points of entertainment in the House of Commons has been watching the member for Calgary Centre argue with the Minister of Natural Resources about which party is more committed to oil and gas. The hon. member talked about accountability. The bill would work to establish an advisory board, which he referenced, that was supposed to have a mandate for review of the government's progress.

Specifically which measures of accountability would the member like to see to ensure the industry is held accountable for climate change?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, accountability is about the whole country being accountable, including the oil and gas industry, so I do appreciate the member's question, particularly as it relates to the Minister of Natural Resources on that side of the House.

We need to set targets here. We need to force targets and regulatory targets about how we will reduce carbonization in our economy going forward, which applies to all industries.

The thing about our natural resource industry is that it has been the most successful at decarbonizing so far. We need to continue on that trend. One company in my riding reduced its carbon footprint by 18% over the past four years. That is significant progress. Show me another company or another industry in the country where we are reducing our carbon footprint by 4.5% a year and we will all be successful in this effort.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, if people are interested in my speech, I invite them to read Gooderham and Nathan, from which I drew inspiration.

Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing? Not in Canada it seems. The increase in Canada's oil sands production is not compatible with the objective of attaining net zero. On the one hand, the report entitled “Canada's Energy Future 2020”, published by Canada Energy Regulator, does not mention any future changes in Canada's policy and plan that would limit the increase in the oil production forecast. On the other hand, the government plan, entitled “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” and an annex released on December 11, 2020, contain no commitment to stop increasing oil sands production, which should continue until 2045, according to the regulator's report.

The government and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change remained silent for more than six months after the report was released. They made no comments about how to reconcile Canada's current plans to increase oil sands operations and achieving net zero by 2050.

As members know, the oil and gas industries are the main source of greenhouse gas emissions growth in Canada. The more they increase, the longer it will take to reverse the trend and the higher the annual greenhouse gas emissions elimination rate will have to be after 2050, if we want to one day achieve net-zero emissions. All of the risks, losses and suffering will be passed on to future generations in exchange for our own immediate financial gain.

One really troubling aspect of the Canada Energy Regulator's report is that it does not contain any analyses or findings to inform Canadians about the future levels of oil sands extraction consistent with the Paris Agreement 1.5° temperature goal. However, similar studies are common and achievable. Such a study would provide a reliable, tangible assessment of the future levels of oil sands production in a world that has committed to avoid a more than 1.5°C rise in global warming.

A recent example of such a study, dating back to late 2019, is the International Energy Agency's sustainable development scenario. It is even more important to have this kind of information on Canada's future oil production given the International Energy Agency's new net-zero by 2050 scenario, which is also set out in Bill C‑12.

What direction does the government intend to take with regard to Canadian production? That is important to know. The Government of Canada's remarkable claim that the oil and gas industries' greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced to 138 tonnes by 2030 has not been confirmed by any data analysis disclosed to the public. None of Canada's successive biannual reports have ever suggested that a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of this magnitude could be achieved by 2050. That means that everything is being done to mislead the population and give people false assurances.

I want to quote someone that I admire who passed away a long time ago. He was a great Quebec premier named René Lévesque. He said, “The task of real democrats is to ensure that the people are evermore up-to-date, educated and informed on their own interests.” That is what true democracy is, but we fall far short of that.

The reality is that, over the years, Canada has become a slacker on the international stage. Lord Deben, chairman of the U.K. climate change committee, said that Canada needed a constant reminder, nothing less. We need to hammer the reality home and highlight, relentlessly, what climate change denial leads to, as well as the negative economic effects that result from this willful blindness. Canada must fully grasp how its behaviour and climate inaction affect other countries around the world. We Matter. That is transparency.

Why is Lord Deben talking about climate inaction? Let us recap: On December 12, 2011, Canada became the first country to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which it had signed in 1997 and which came into effect in 2005. Canada had to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels. At least, at the time, we referenced the right year, 1990, and not 2005, as the current government is doing and as did the previous Conservative government, with the result that Canadian emissions only went down 1.5% since 2005.

By 2015, lots of Quebeckers and Canadians had lost faith in the Harper government on the climate question, so they tried their luck with the current Prime Minister, who promised to make fighting climate change a priority. That illusion was shattered, especially when the Prime Minister decided to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion.

The first Liberal sleight of hand involved the Prime Minister stating that the profits would be invested in renewable energy projects, making the pipeline key to the transition. Unfortunately, the price tag for Trans Mountain and its expansion has climbed to over $12.6 billion. There will be no profits. Essentially, the government decided to invest in fossil fuels rather than green technology, and taxpayers are paying the price, period.

Now for the Liberals' second sleight of hand in the fight against climate change. They want to sell us green oil, so they will try to persuade us that they are supporting clean, green hydrogen. The thing is, hydrogen is made from natural gas. It is blue hydrogen. It comes from natural gas, which is a fossil fuel, and that is what we need to avoid. In essence, the Canadian strategy's only purpose is to find new markets for western oil.

They also want to make us believe that we will reduce emissions with carbon capture, use and storage technologies. However, when carbon is captured and then injected into oil wells to extend their life, this does not reduce emissions, it increases them.

Finally, the third sleight of hand involves trees. The government is going to plant two billion trees by 2030 in order to continue operating the oil sands at the same time. Two billion trees will result in a total reduction of 30 megatonnes by 2030. Trans Mountain will result in 620 additional megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. We can easily do the math.

The government now claims that the trees would remove two million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. I am not a botanist, but how can trees that may not have reached maturity capture a significant amount of carbon?

I find it interesting because when we look at the Department of Natural Resources projections for the growing Canada's forests program, we see that the majority of the two billion trees will be planted in 2028, 2029 and 2030. So far, 30 million trees have been planted. At this rate, it will take 65 years to keep the Liberals' 2019 election promise. Of course planting trees is a good thing, but can we rely on that alone to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Let us be serious.

Canada's climate policy is underwhelming. Canada's climate governance is lacking and will continue to be, with or without Bill C‑12. Forecasts indicate that oil and gas production will continue to increase until at least 2040, and this is not compatible with combatting climate change.

Bill C‑12 was drafted and designed in such a way as to have no effect whatsoever on the Liberal government's plan. The Liberals are going to do some things, but it will not be enough because they are squandering all of the positive actions by continuing to subsidize fossil fuels at the same time.

My colleagues will ask me why the Bloc supports the bill, and my answer is simple. We support the objective of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and enshrining this objective in law is essentially what Bill C‑12 seeks to achieve.

We support the bill, but let us not kid ourselves. Quite frankly, saying we will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is not revolutionary. That is the target set out in the Paris Agreement, which we ratified in 2016. We can never say it enough: To achieve net-zero emissions, we must first reach global peaking of emissions, and Canada is not on track to do its fair share to quickly reach that target.

The Liberals should talk a little less about 2050 and a little more about 2030. Quebeckers can count on the Bloc Québécois to monitor the situation and stay on top of this government's actions. We will not let the Prime Minister continue to wave his Liberal magic wand to make us believe that green oil exists. The Prime Minister is a great defender of greenwashing because green oil does not exist and never will.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I agree with almost everything the member has said. Given where we are at as a planet, given where we are at as a country, given the challenge in front of us and given all the things we have discussed this evening in this debate, where does she find hope?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague, who serves with me on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Where do I find hope? I actually have a hard time finding hope. I do manage to find it, however, in groups like Mothers Step In, where women and mothers join forces to stand up for their children and grandchildren. I find it in those kinds of groups, in those ordinary citizens who fight day in and day out, who take action every day for the environment. I find it in my colleagues here in the House, in the speeches we give, the questions we ask and the efforts we make to push this country to live up to the agreements it signs left and right.

The government needs to stop with the grandstanding and start taking real action.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, I would first like to commend and congratulate my colleague from Repentigny on her superb speech, which was passionate and full of conviction. I take my hat off to her.

Some people want to defend the industry by saying that it has some positive spinoffs.

What does my colleague have to say to them?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Joliette.

Speaking of hope, when I see how my colleague from Joliette defends his files, it always fills me with hope.

I found some very interesting data on the socio-economic benefits that the industry is always boasting about. An environmental engineer and professor at Université Laval, who is also an expert on pollution, said that over the past 20 years, as production and emissions reached unprecedented heights, the industry slashed jobs to cut costs, and public revenue from royalties and taxes dropped precipitously.

We must not fall for the arguments served up by the industry. There is another side to the coin.