Carbon Neutral Bill | A “significant step forward” for Canada, say experts

The project of Canadian Carbon Neutral Accountability Act marks a “significant step forward” which gives a certain credibility to Canada, believe various experts and environmental groups, who believe that Ottawa is thus giving itself good tools to reach the target of net zero emissions in 2050.

The series of intermediate targets that Canada will have to reach in 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045 “brings the government closer to its obligations”, which has always missed its long-term objectives until now, believes Professor Annie Chaloux, of the ‘Université de Sherbrooke, specialist in Canadian and Quebec climate policies.

“It forces Canada to have mechanisms to be much more serious,” she said in an interview with The Press.

These intermediate targets will be so many “political handles” allowing experts and civil society to intervene if the government is wrong, believes Chaloux.

The professor also welcomes the Canadian government’s desire to base itself on science by setting up a committee of experts to guide it.


The environmental organization Équiterre, which qualifies Bill C-12 as “significant progress”, is delighted with the accountability it proposes and the transparency that will result.

The obligation for the Minister of Finance to produce an annual report on the financial risks associated with climate change “is the kind of transversality that we would like to see throughout the government apparatus,” said Émile Boisseau-Bouvier, climate analyst at organization.

Greenpeace Canada also invites Ottawa to “start with the state-owned company that is building the Trans Moutain pipeline,” said Patrick Bonin, head of the organization’s climate-energy campaign, also calling the bill a “Important step forward”.

The Climate Action Network Canada also speaks of a “big step in the right direction” and stresses that this bill could ensure that climate change is no longer “a hot potato of partisan politics” in the country.

Gaps to correct

The absence in the bill of an intermediate target for 2025 is unanimously deplored by observers that Press consulted.

Such a milestone would stimulate “short-term ambition”, believes the Climate Action Network.

The next few years will be crucial in tackling the climate emergency. Accountability should start right away, not in 2030.

Marc-André Viau, Director of Government Relations at Equiterre

Bill C-12 sets the goal of carbon neutrality for 2050, but concrete measures to achieve it will be announced in a subsequent plan, which leaves University of Montreal professor Normand Mousseau, director of the University of Montreal, on his hunger. ‘Institut de l’énergie Trottier de Polytechnique Montréal. “It’s progressing, but we are not there,” he said.

Many also deplore the fact that the bill does not include any obligation of result, since the government could not achieve the targets without this having any consequences, apart from the need to justify itself and take corrective measures.

Professor Annie Chaloux, however, relativizes this aspect by stressing that the government agrees to “put itself under the magnifying glass on a regular basis” and that by enshrining its objectives in a law, it exposes itself to prosecution if it does not respect them. .


Bill C-12, however, highlights the inconsistencies of the federal government, which continues to subsidize fossil fuels and which recently reiterated its support for the Keystone XL pipeline project, say Annie Chaloux and Normand Mousseau.

This is why they consider that this bill gives the federal government only “little” or “no” credibility, respectively, in the fight against climate change.

“As long as we do not see that we are really reducing our emissions, it is still wishful thinking,” says Normand Mousseau.

The two professors also stress that the success of the Ottawa plan will depend greatly on the provinces.

In this sense, they explain, the expected judgment of the Supreme Court on Ottawa’s right to impose a carbon tax will have a great impact on Bill C-12, since it will indicate whether the federal government can impose to the provinces for measures to combat climate change.

Other reactions

We share the 2050 carbon neutral goal [et] We are now waiting to see the concrete measures that will be taken by the federal government to promote the achievement of the 2030 target and contribute to the reductions achieved in Quebec.

Geneviève Richard, press secretary for the Minister of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change of Quebec, Benoit Charette

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets are important, as is the process of assessing progress against those targets. […] Clear and precise guidelines, a predictable policy framework and an enabling environment for investments help[ont] to get there faster.

Goldy Hyder, President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada

This law would pave the way for reducing climate risk, creating sustainable jobs and ensuring the health of the population in the long term, and this, to face the second great crisis facing Canada – climate change – as we continue to prioritize our response to the pandemic.

Sabaa Khan, Executive Director of the David Suzuki Foundation for Quebec and the Atlantic

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