Federal opposition parties closer to forcing government’s hand on climate

Canada’s House of Commons passed a third reading today of Bill C-311, a bill originally tabled in 2006 that’s also known as the Climate Change Accountability Act. It now goes to the Senate before being passed into law.

MPs from all opposition parties — the NDP, Bloc and Liberals — united together to outvote Conservative MPs, who voted as a block against the bill. The final vote count was 149 in favour, 136 against. The bill requires the government to set a medium-term target to bring greenhouse-gas emissions to 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and a long-term target to bring emissions to 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Specifically, it requires the Minister of Environment — within six months of the bill receiving Royal Assent — to report to Parliament a greenhouse-gas emissions target plan for the years 2015 to 2045 in five-year intervals. Also, the minister must issue an annual statement explaining what measures the government is taking to meet the country’s targets, including regulated emission limits and performance standards, market-based mechanisms such as emissions trading or offsets, incentives for industry, and cooperation agreement with provinces.

“This bill matters because the government’s current greenhouse gas targets fall far short of scientific assessments of the emission reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change, and because to date the government has not produced a credible plan to meet even those targets,” said Matthew Bramley, director of climate change programs at the Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank. Bramley called it a “ground-breaking bill” and encouraged Senators to show the same kind of leadership as opposition MPs showed today.

We have momentum here… let’s not lose it. It’s time to hold this minority Conservative government to account for its inactions on this file.

4 thoughts on “Federal opposition parties closer to forcing government’s hand on climate”

  1. How will this produce a different outcome from the previous Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act?

    The government decided to ignore the requirements of that previous law, and a federal court upheld that they could do so.

  2. We focus on the storage of energy because we are conditioned to, given the tapped reservoir nature of the sources relied upon over the last 250 years. Maybe such emphasis on the importance of storage is unhealthy since viewing it’s lack as an impediment allows us to forego the required emissions and lifestyle transition that will keep us around the 350 point. Renewable energy sources provide energy. This is regardless whether storage exists within the system. A total transformation of the way we use energy may end in our not requiring the level of reserves we are accustomed to. We have to progress in all ways available, not hinge our investments on what may turn out to be atavistic and unnecessary. Does anyone else feel storage might be something distracting from the issue? There are so many distractions; black carbon, geoengineering, nuclear. . .

    Webmaster maybe consider changing from energy storage to just storage in the CleanBreak home-page’s Categories column. I thought there was no storage listed as a category before I found it as energy storage.

  3. You should note the party that introduced the bill – especially if you are talking about holding the minority Conservatives to account. I’m sure you know Canada’s emissions haven’t really gone up since the Conservatives took power – from a liberal string of governments that had huge increases in emissions.
    Jack Layton introduced the bill.

  4. Canada’s emissions didn’t go up last year because of the recession… they went up the first year the Conservatives were in power. The Conservatives can’t take credit for a slide in emissions. BTW: The slide in U.S. emissions was much more dramatic… again, recession — not anything any of us can take credit for.

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