Flood protection sandbags with flooded homes in the backgroundWhen it comes to climate change, targets are important – but they are meaningless without a plan to meet them. Unfortunately, on climate, the Trudeau government continues to offer up more of the same.

The federal government recently introduced Bill C-12, the Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, which, on the surface, signals progress on addressing the climate crisis. This bill aims to create a net-zero carbon emissions economy by 2050. It would be the first bill of its kind passed into law, although it should be noted that former NDP leader Jack Layton passed a similar bill through the House of Commons in 2010, only to have it scuttled by the unelected Senate. It also helps make climate change part of the regular functioning of the federal government.

However, Bill C-12 wrongly focuses on 2030 and beyond as the target-setting timeframe for emissions reductions. Moreover, this bill continues the unsuccessful practice of concentrating on target-setting announcements, rather than on meeting those targets by cutting greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.  

At the 2019 National Convention, CUPE adopted both our Strategic Directions policy and Resolution No. 33 that call on governments to recognize we are living in a climate crisis now. Additionally, CUPE calls for governments to act through a legislative framework to transform our economy and support good green jobs while ensuring just transition measures are in place to address the climate crisis. This is consistent with CUPE’s work with the Green Economy Network (GEN), which calls for clean public energy expansion, among other steps to cut emissions. Bill C-12 puts part of the framework in place, but it does not reflect the urgency of the climate crisis.

At best, the bill is a small step in the right direction, but the time for small steps has long passed. Instead of delaying until 2030, a shorter-term target for at least 2025, if not earlier, should be put in place, along with concrete emissions-cutting actions and funding allocated to implement them.

A crisis demands immediate action, not a 10-year delay. The Liberals must tighten Bill C-12 rather than push the problem further down the road.