The Canadian flag on beige and black them

Canada Commits to Net-Zero in New Legislation

November 19, 2020

Risk management, a national strategy and plan, oversight and governance, transparent metrics and targets – Canada now has a proposed legal framework for meeting our global climate commitments; and it looks rather like the recommendations of the Task-Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Today, Canada’s federal government tabled long-awaited legislation outlining a roadmap for meeting our country’s commitment to being net zero by 2050. Highlights of Bill C-12, the new Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act include a sober assessment of the risks to Canada from climate change, clear 5-year milestones starting in 2030 through to 2050, transparent reporting on performance to the public, topped off by oversight from an empowered Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (with the Auditor General, no less, in tow).

The fact that the Minister of Finance is specifically called out to make yearly reports related to the administration’s understanding and assessment of climate-related financial risks and opportunities mirrors precisely what all finance departments within organizations are being asked to do by the TCFD recommendations.

These are exciting developments and one hopes that the 15-member expert advisory panel called for to actually create the targets will not get bogged down. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada must set the 2030 target within six months of the legislation passing. With this legislation, Canadians finally have a means to hold their government and other actors accountable for their performance on emissions reductions. We can also have hope that the worst impacts of climate change may be mitigated.

The preamble to Bill C-12 recognizes the complexity of the challenge, but also throws the gauntlet to all Canadians to get involved and contribute to the important and necessary national goal of significant emissions reductions. The federal government has signalled its intent to help sustain the momentum initiated by so many organizations, communities and individuals. We look forward to the details that are required to bring this to life, and we encourage all organizations to answer this rallying cry and consider implementing their own approach to greenhouse gas emissions management, and to quantifying the risks and opportunities that they face as a result of climate change.