David Suzuki Foundation welcomes Canadian Net-Zero Climate Accountability Act, urges all-party support

VANCOUVER — Climate accountability legislation introduced today by the federal government, Bill C-12, bodes well for Canada’s ability to meet targets, hold government responsible and join other leading countries like the U.K. in driving down carbon emissions, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.

“This climate legislation could be game-changing,” said David Suzuki Foundation acting executive director Ian Bruce. “It promises to be a foundation for Canada’s path to meeting climate goals, domestically and internationally. Moving forward with climate accountability is exactly what the climate emergency calls for.”

Canada has missed every greenhouse gas target it has set. The bill will require the federal government to chart a course to zeroing emissions by 2050, including establishing milestones and regular reporting to Parliament on progress. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the next decade of emissions reductions will determine whether the world will be on track to keep warming below 1.5 C to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate breakdown. Canada must act quickly, especially over the next five years, to reduce its emissions and meet its commitments.

“Finally, climate is catching up with other issues in Canada that demand scrutiny and regular reporting,” said Foundation sustainable communities associate director Sherry Yano. “It would be hard to imagine a Canada without ombudsmen or tax audits, but that’s what we’ve had without legislated accountability for climate action. Legal accountability is a fundamental part of effective and democratic policy.”

Canada is required to update its international emissions reduction targets for 2030 this year. The Foundation is calling for an ambitious climate plan that enables Canada to exceed its current 2030 emissions reduction target, and quick action to implement measures under the plan. If the Net-Zero Climate Accountability Act becomes law, the new transparency and accountability framework will help ensure these targets and plans translate into real progress in reducing emissions.

“This legislation promises to provide a path to reduce climate risk and bring jobs and more secure long-term health as we continue to prioritize our pandemic response,” Yano said. “We will advocate for adding a 2025 target to ensure that this legislation aligns with what international science tells us is needed. We’ll also bring forward ideas to make public participation meaningful and highlight the importance of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a way to assess that.”

The Foundation will also advocate for an independent advisory committee that includes members with diverse backgrounds and expertise and that has the power to hold government responsible for action, or lack of action, on climate. Regular reports and enforcement will be instrumental to meeting climate targets.

The legislation broadly aligns with the gold-standard U.K. legislation, in place since 2008, which has played a role in the U.K.’s ability to hold leaders accountable, reduce polarization and drive down carbon emissions.

The NDP and Bloc Québécois have also introduced versions of climate accountability legislation in Canada.

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Update: On December 9, the David Suzuki Foundation submitted these recommendations for strengthening Bill C-12.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Theresa Beer, tbeer@davidsuzuki.org, 778-874-3396