Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson introduced the government’s Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act in Parliament today, unveiling legislation aimed at charting the country’s path to net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. The new Act will legally bind the Government of Canada to the 2050 target, along with establishing a process to set 5-year interim targets for national emissions reductions.

In tabling the new legislation, Canada joins a flurry of recent activity by national governments to tackle climate change. In October, Japan and South Korea both announced plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and in September, China introduced commitments to be climate neutral by 2060, with emissions peaking before 2030. Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the country’s ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ plan aiming for billions in climate and clean energy investments, along with a ban on new sales of ICE cars by 2030. Importantly, the US is anticipated to get back into the climate fight, with President-elect Joe Biden’s promise to rejoin the Paris Agreement on his first day in office, and the Biden-Harris transition team’s setting climate change as a priority for their new administration.

In addition to the 2050 and interim GHG reduction targets, Canada’s new legislation calls for the establishment of a Net-Zero Advisory Body to provide advise to the Government on the best pathway to reach its targets, and requires annual reporting by the Government describing how departments and crown corporations are considering the financial risks and opportunities of climate change in their decision-making.

On the accountability front, the legislation mandates that in the event of a missed target, the Government will be required to issue a report outlining the reasons why Canada failed to meet the target and describing the actions the Government will take or is taking to address the failure to achieve the target. Additionally, the Act calls on the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to examine and report on the Government’s implementation of climate-change mitigation measures at least once every five years.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said:

“Reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions is what the science says we must achieve, and this 30-year project will require every future government to take actions to grow our economy while reducing emissions in every sector. This achievement is necessary to ensure our kids and grandkids can live in a world with cleaner air and water and to ensure our businesses maintain and gain a competitive edge by producing the low-carbon products the world wants to buy, well into the future.”