Canada must use its new climate accountability law to tackle the climate emergency

BC’s unprecedented heatwave highlights urgent need for action under federal law passed today

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) & səl̓ilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territories/VANCOUVER - The current heatwave roasting British Columbia is amplifying the need for Canada to start doing its part to address climate change. Today, West Coast Environmental Law Association celebrates the news that Canada’s Senate has passed Bill C-12, the Canadian Net Zero Emissions Accountability Act. But lawyers caution that the new climate law must be implemented in ways that recognize and act on climate urgency, or Canada may continue to miss its greenhouse gas emissions targets.

“Canada has missed every climate target it has set for itself because climate change has never been seen as a true emergency, like COVID-19,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer at West Coast. “With this week’s unprecedented temperatures in Western Canada, the impact of the climate crisis is impossible to ignore. As the federal government implements the Canadian Net Zero Emissions Accountability Act, decision-makers must do the tough work and have the hard conversations that will allow them to figure out how to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and then follow up with the same type of action and regular reporting we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We celebrate the fact that Bill C-12 puts in place many of the key tools for tackling climate change, such as requirements to set regular targets, to prepare plans and to report on progress,” agreed Anna Johnston, Staff Lawyer. “The types of accountability promised by this Act are welcome, and the government now needs to show that it is serious and deliver.”

West Coast Environmental Law has advocated for a Canadian climate accountability law for many years, first proposing such a law in Andrew Gage’s 2015 Report, a Carbon Budget for Canada, and then working with a coalition of organizations to press the Canadian government to adopt such a law. West Coast Environmental Law has been working on climate issues for decades and was part of Canada’s official delegation to the Kyoto Conference in 1997.


For more information, please contact:

Andrew Gage | Staff Lawyer

Anna Johnston| Staff Lawyer