Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the time I have been allowed to speak on the floor today. I also thank the member for Sudbury. I remember visiting his riding a few years ago. We were going to SNOLAB to look at innovations in the mining sector. I sat lakeside with him, talking about climate change and his passion for the environment, so I feel that conversation has moved into the House of Commons. I wish I was up in Sudbury at the lake with him right now having the conversation that way, but it is also great to be here today speaking on the record and having an opportunity to participate in this debate on Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, from my riding here in Guelph.
I would like to start first by recognizing that Guelph is situated on the ancestral homelands of the Anishinabe people, specifically the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
Climate change is a key issue for many Guelphites. It goes across party lines. Today, I have seen members of the environment committee, where we have these discussions, all agreeing something needs to be done in the crisis we are facing right now. The legislation in front of us takes us to 2030 in a 10-year increment, then goes beyond to 2050 in a 30-year increment to ensure we hit the proper points on the graph now and in the future.
When we are looking at things to help get us to those targets and how we will achieve those targets together, some of the technologies do not exist yet, as the member for Sudbury said. Some of them are accelerating faster than legislation is keeping pace with, such as the move toward electronic vehicles. My constituents in Guelph are really excited to see the banning of single-use plastics, the commitment to plant two billion trees and the work we are doing to conserve our natural spaces. That being said, Guelphites are also challenging me and reminding me that better is always possible.
This legislation gives us some key reference points as we go forward to see how we are doing in the future to see if we are meeting our goals to net zero by 2050. I am proud the government is acknowledging that Canadians want to be bold on climate action now. The government has to continue to deliver on this call to action and act in direct response to it. I have heard from younger constituents, I have held climate change town halls with high school students, I have worked with people at the University of Guelph who are researching, and everyone wants to see action. This legislation is a way of tracking the progress of the actions we are undertaking.
Back in December 2015, I can remember being a new member of Parliament and being so proud of Canada signing, along with 194 other countries, the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement included the goal of limiting a global average temperature rise to well below 2°C to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels.
According to the 2018 special report “Global Warming of 1.5ºC” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global emissions must reach carbon neutrality by 2050 in order to limit global warming to the 1.5°C goal identified in the Paris Agreement. Reaching carbon neutrality means achieving a state where human-induced carbon emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are balanced by the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Achieving net zero will require a careful calibration to reflect Canada's unique circumstances, including geography, the importance of the traditional resource economy, shared jurisdiction on the environment, and the natural and technical solutions we will bring forward to hit that balance.
The Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act does just that. It would help us meet our emissions reduction targets, grow the economy and build resilience to a changing climate. It would also enshrine in legislation Canada’s commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, which is also a goal of Guelph's city council. To help achieve this goal, emissions reduction targets would be set at five-year intervals for the years 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045 on a rolling basis, and we have targets going to 2030 to hit our Paris agreements as well that would need to be tabled within six months of this legislation before us today coming into effect.
When we set the target for each of these milestone years, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change must consider the long-term objective of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. In addition, the minister must take into account the best scientific information available, Canada’s international commitments with respect to climate change and submissions from interested persons from across the country, including young people in Canada, technical experts and others who want to be part of the conversation. These targets would be set at least five years before the beginning of the next related milestone year, with the exception of 2030, which would be set within nine months after Bill C-12 reaches royal assent.
Bill C-12 would also require the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change to develop emissions reduction plans that would outline how the Government of Canada intends to take action to achieve the targets for each of the milestone years and 2050. These plans would contain the relevant greenhouse gas emissions target, a description of the key emissions reduction measures intended to achieve that target, a description of relevant sectoral strategies and a development of emissions reduction strategies for the federal government operations. The plan would also include an explanation of how each of these elements would contribute to Canada achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
To ensure transparency and accountability reflecting the full range of relevant circumstances, these plans would be created in consultation with other federal ministers who have duties or functions relating to the measures that are being taken to achieve the target.
In terms of accountability, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act would require the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change to prepare two types of reports: progress reports and assessment reports. Progress reports would be used to provide interim updates on Canada’s progress toward achieving the target for the next milestone year. They would contain updates on the progress that has been made toward achieving the relevant target and on the implementation status of federal measures, sectoral strategies and federal government operations strategies outlined in the emissions reduction plan.
Assessment reports are the other type of reports, and they would be used to reflect on the last target, the actions of the government, and whether or not Canada has achieved this target. Assessment reports would contain a summary of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory for the relevant year and a statement on whether Canada achieved its target for that year. They would also assess how the federal government measures relevant sectoral strategies and the federal government operations emissions reduction strategies described in the relevant emissions reduction plan contributing to Canada’s efforts to achieve the target for that year.
I will also add that this would be audited by the office of the Auditor General of Canada through the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development.
Finally, the assessment reports would include any information relating to adjustments that could be made to subsequent emissions reduction plans in order to increase the probability of meeting subsequent national greenhouse gas emissions targets and any other information the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change considers appropriate. Assessment reports would be prepared no later than 30 days after the day on which Canada submits its greenhouse gas emissions inventory report to the United Nations FCCC for every milestone year or to 2050.
What if we miss the target? The accountability of this piece is that if Canada were to fall behind on meeting the targets for the milestone year of 2050, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change at that time would include in the assessment report an explanation of why Canada did not meet the target and a description of any actions the Government of Canada would take to address the target further. That is typical of what we see from reports coming from our Auditor General. This would ensure the transparency and accountability of the government’s action for all Canadians, as assessment reports would be made public after they had been tabled with either the House of Senate or both the Senate and the House of Commons. On that note, all original and amended targets, emissions reduction plans as well as progress reports and assessment reports would be tabled in both Houses of Parliament, as I said.
Following the tabling of any target of any of these documents in either House of Parliament, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change must make them available to the public as soon as possible to ensure transparency toward Canadian—