Liberals legislate 2050 net-zero emissions, but critics say they're delaying action

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
			By David Opinko	
		Canada sets course for net-zero emissions by 2050 with proposed bill

In response, he confirmed that legislation was tabled on Thursday which sets binding targets to get Canada to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Dale Marshall of advocacy group Environmental Defence said the legislation lacks "true accountability and transparency", as it failed to impose immediate consequences on governments who miss the five-year targets.

If future governments fail to meet the targets outlined in the plan, they will be required to justify what hindered their achievement and detail how to reverse the trend, although no legally binding sanctions are to be enforced as the proposal now stands.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government still intends to live up to its commitment to exceed the current targets by 2030, but the legislation would not require an actual number - or a plan to get there - until at least six months after it becomes law.

Under draft legislation presented on Thursday, governments will - from 2030 - have to present rolling five-year targets for cutting emissions rather than setting a goal many decades away that could be ignored by subsequent administrations.

Wilkinson promises that the new plan will cut more emissions by 2030 than Canada promised in the Paris accord.

"The climate accountability legislation introduced today unfortunately has major deficiencies that will, at best, hold future federal governments accountable for Canada's climate commitments", he said in a written statement.

Bill C-12 also orders the finance minister to prepare a report outlining what the public service has done to "manage its financial risks and opportunities related to climate change", and it orders the federal environment commissioner to report on the government's climate measures.

The bill requires the environment minister to prepare progress reports for target years and another set of reports summarizing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

In the absence of strong penalties imposed on the government if it fails to meet its targets, opposition parties say the plan is nothing but a smokescreen.

Marshall criticized the plan for not legislating the "most important" target in 2025, and instead beginning in 2030.

What happens if it doesn't achieve them?

"We have taken real and significant action on fighting climate change every year of our mandate over the past five years", Trudeau says.

The bill would establish a 15-member part-time "advisory body" with the mandate to provide the minister with advice on how to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.