Federal Government Tables New Climate Change Legislation

The federal government in Ottawa has tabled new legislation today that would force current and future administrations to set binding climate targets to get Canada to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The bill, if passed in Parliament, would require the federal government to set five-year interim emissions reduction targets over the next 30 years to ensure progress toward that net-zero emissions. The legislation fulfils a Liberal election promise to be more aggressive at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and to get Canada to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Reaching net-zero by 2050 would mean that emissions produced 30 years from now would be fully absorbed through actions that scrub carbon from the atmosphere — such as planting trees — or technology, such as carbon-capture and storage systems. The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to plant two billion trees.

Global emissions will need to reach net zero around mid-century to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 Celsius, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The 1.5 Celsius target was a goal of the Paris Climate Accord, signed by almost all countries, including Canada.

The first emissions reduction target, and the plan to meet it, would be tabled nine months after the legislation is passed in Canada’s Parliament. That first target would be for the year 2030.