Legislation tabled in Ottawa doesn’t advance the fight against climate change and is “much ado about nothing,” says a prominent Canadian climate researcher.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government’s Bill C-12 will “ensure we reach this net-zero goal in a way that gives Canadians confidence.”
But the legislation has been received with broad criticism from climate advocates who say it does nothing to stop governments from continuing to miss climate change goals. While the legislation sets emissions reduction targets for 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045, it provides no penalty or enforcement mechanism to ensure targets are met.
The legislation could also simply be repealed.
Asked about a lack of penalties or enforcement, Prime Minister Trudeau said the bill increases government accountability because Canadians will now be able to judge governments against targets.
But that’s no real change, according to Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, a senior research with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
“The Ministry of Environment has been setting climate targets and publishing climate plans—not to mention reporting on their inevitable failure – for nearly thirty years,” Mertins-Kirkwood wrote in his analysis of the Bill.
“Bill C-12 is instead a narrow and largely uninteresting piece of legislation that formalizes the federal government’s existing approach to managing climate policy,” he wrote.
Laurel Collins, environment critic for the opposition NDP, says her party will be seeking amendments to a bill that is “in no way adequate.” One amendment will be to require a target for 2025, she said.
“There is no real accountability measure for the next ten years,” said Collins. “Why are the Liberals waiting a decade to put in real accountability?”
Conservative environment critic Dan Albas said the Liberal government needs to be honest with Canadians about how much reaching net-zero emissions would cost.