Thank you for the invitation to discuss with you Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act.
I would start by thanking members of this committee for undertaking a timely examination of this bill. I understand it is a constituency week. With the climate crisis before us, we obviously cannot afford to wait.
Over 120 countries have already made a commitment to net zero by 2050, including our biggest trading partner south of the border. Major Canadian companies have also made this commitment.
As I have said, I remain very open to constructive amendments that will further strengthen Bill C-12. I look forward to the committee's work in this regard, and I remain committed to an approach of co-operation and collaboration. That is how the parliamentary process should work and I firmly believe that is what Canadians expect of their elected representatives.
Bill C-12 codifies the government's commitment for Canada to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and our newly announced target for 2030. It also creates a detailed accountability and transparency regime to ensure that we methodically plan, report and course correct on our way to net zero.
In December of last year, we published Canada's strengthened climate plan. This plan is one of the most detailed GHG reduction plans in the world.
Recognizing the scientific imperative for early and ambitious action, we announced a new 2030 target of a 40% to 45% reduction in GHG emissions at the Leaders Summit on Climate in April.
Measures announced in budget 2021, along with ongoing work with our American colleagues on issues including transportation and methane, will support that new target. We know more action will be required. This continued ambition is what Canadians expect—that we will continue to prioritize climate action, and that we will work to achieve targets that are aligned with science.
To ensure we meet our targets, Bill C-12 requires that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change prepare two types of reports, both of which are required to be tabled in Parliament and made available to the public: progress reports and assessment reports.
Progress reports will provide updates on Canada's progress towards achieving the target for the next milestone year and any additional measures that could be taken to achieve the target. Each progress report must be prepared at least two years before the relevant milestone year.
Assessments reports, on the other hand, will explain whether the most recent target was achieved. If Canada fails to achieve a target, the minister must explain why and include a description of actions the government will take to address the failed target. Each assessment report must be prepared within 30 days of Canada submitting its GHG inventory report to the UNFCC for the relevant target year.
Bill C-12 also holds the government to account by requiring the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development to regularly examine and report on the government's implementation of the climate change mitigation measures, including those undertaken to achieve each target.
The bill establishes an advisory body of up to 15 members, which will provide advice to the minister and conduct engagement on pathways to achieve net-zero by 2050.
The advisory body must submit an annual report and the minister must publicly respond to their advice.
All of this is in addition to our existing reporting requirements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. My department has developed a chart outlining the suite of reporting requirements and transparency mechanisms, which will be provided to this committee.
By putting our climate obligations into law, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act would ensure that governments are accountable for and transparent about their actions to combat climate change. Bill C-12 would require all future governments to table strong climate plans, based on science, to address the threat of climate change.
Canadians are counting on us to have constructive discussions to strengthen this legislation, but they are also looking for us to enshrine the commitment to net zero and a pathway to get there in law.
I look forward to the robust discussion on Bill C-12 at this committee, but I also hope that this legislation will be moved forward as expeditiously as possible.
Thank you very much.