Published On: June 29, 2021

Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA], 29 June 2021:

Today, the Senate passed the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act (Bill C-12), confirming the first-ever climate accountability legislation in Canada. This is a historic moment for climate action in Canada. Bill C-12 enshrines Canada’s commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 in law, and establishes the country’s first comprehensive climate governance system.

The House and Senate votes in favour of climate accountability legislation are the culmination of years of advocacy from Canadian civil society.

The Act will:

  • Establish a long-term target of reaching net zero emissions in 2050;
  • Legislate setting five-year milestone emissions reductions targets starting in 2030, with an interim objective in 2026;
  • Require climate targets to be set 10 years in advance;
  • Create a framework for detailed climate policy planning and progress reporting;
  • Legislate a Net-Zero Advisory Body composed of diverse stakeholders and rights-holders to advise the Environment and Climate Change Minister on targets and plans;
  • Require the Minister to consider the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in climate planning and target-setting;
  • Mandate a legislative review of the Bill 5 years after its adoption.

Canada has missed every climate target it has set, and previous attempts at climate accountability legislation, such as then NDP Leader Jack Layton’s bill in 2009, have failed to make it  through the country’s legislative process. In recent months, Climate Action Network Canada along with our members and allies intensified our efforts to encourage parties to strengthen Bill C-12 after the first draft was tabled. Multi-partisan collaboration in Parliament and swift work in the Senate allowed a strengthened bill to pass before the summer recess. While Bill C-12 falls short of the international gold standard, it will provide a foundation that can be built upon with strong implementation to ensure that Canada never misses another climate target.


“The adoption of Bill C-12 by both Houses of Parliament is a groundbreaking moment and ushers Canada into a new era of accountability to its climate commitments. After decades of broken climate promises made on the international stage, years of relentless mobilization by the climate community led to this legislative milestone. While the Bill is by no means perfect and we will work to ensure its robust implementation, this moment is a testament to people power, and a big step forward for Canadian climate action.”
– Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada 

“Bill C-12 is a critical step forward for action on climate change. It establishes the legal foundation Canada has long needed to bring consistency to climate governance, to ensure we never miss another climate target, and put the country on a path to a net-zero future. While not as strong as international comparators, the true test of Bill C-12 will be in its implementation, and we look forward to reviewing Canada’s new nationally determined contribution and the federal government’s first climate plan.”
– Alan Andrews, Climate Program Director, Ecojustice

“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. With this week’s unprecedented temperatures in BC, the urgent need to address the climate crisis is impossible to ignore. The Canadian Net Zero Emissions Accountability Act will play a crucial role in Canadian climate action – and in implementing it, the government must do the tough work 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.”
– Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law Association

“While this law is not perfect, we are glad to now have additional tools to fight against the climate crisis, the effects of which are increasingly being felt. As British Columbia suffocates in the extreme heat and more than 80% of Canada’s agricultural land is affected by unusually dry or drought conditions, there was an urgent need to pass this law.”
– Marc-André Viau, Director, Government Relations, Équiterre

“As extreme heat overwhelms communities across the country, let us acknowledge that change is inevitable, but whether it will be orderly or catastrophic is very much under governmental control. Adoption of Bill C-12 would be a first, long-awaited step towards building the robust legal framework necessary to ensure that Canada’s deeply entrenched fossil fuel past does not annihilate our future. With the entire world preparing for deep emission cuts as a matter of ecosystemic and human survival, climate accountability legislation is critical to oblige our governments to act more transparently, systematically and holistically about decarbonization.”
– Sabaa Khan, David Suzuki Foundation

“Tens of thousands of people across the country demanded that our political leaders strengthen Bill C-12, and we now have a first-of-its-kind climate accountability law. Although the bill is not perfect, today we’re celebrating people power and a necessary step towards the kind of climate action that is long overdue in Canada.”
– Claire Gallagher, Campaign Manager, Leadnow

“The passage of C-12 gives me hope that we will leave our children a livable planet.  Many people do not realize that Canada is one of the climate laggards; that we are one of the top 10 emitters of greenhouse gases; that we have failed to meet every climate target that we have set for ourselves. The accountability act will bind our elected leaders to our climate commitments;  make our progress more transparent to the public; tell us when we need to correct our path.”
– Kim Perrotta, Executive Director, Canadian Health Association for Sustainability and Equity (CHASE)

“The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment applauds the passage of Bill C-12, which is a critical step in Canada’s healthy response to climate change. A recent study from Nature Climate Change shows that 37% of warm-season heat-related deaths can be attributed to human-caused climate change. We are in a health emergency: the heat dome currently sitting over Western Canada has broken the Canadian high-temperature record for two days in a row. In emergency resuscitation in the ER, we use frameworks and protocols to clarify roles, set expectations, and embed data checks so our team can work in a well-coordinated and time-efficient way to save lives. We look forward to seeing even more rigour added at the 5-year legislative review. As in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, we must push hard, push fast, and not stop.”
– Dr. Courtney Howard, Emergency Physician in Yellowknives Dene Territory, NWT, Past-President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)

“The passing of Bill C-12 is a tremendous win for climate action in Canada. While this act may not be the gold standard, it  is the right response to 30 years of missed climate targets in that it establishes a legally binding structure to help ensure Canada does not miss future targets and that we remain accountable for our contribution to global warming.”
– Isabelle Turcotte, Federal Policy Director, Pembina Institute

“Amnesty International Canada francophone is pleased to see that Canada will now have a legislative framework for carbon neutrality that takes into account the rights of Indigenous Peoples as detailed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. While we do not consider the proposed law to be perfect, we recognize that it is a first step in setting the stage for addressing climate change and its human rights implications. We are pleased that Indigenous knowledge is recognized as an important source of information to be considered by the Advisory body and hope that Indigenous persons will be part of this Advisory body.”
– France-Isabelle Langlois, Executive Director, Amnistie internationale Canada francophone

“We support the passage of Bill C 12. At the same time an unprecedented heat wave reminds us how devastating inadequate action can be.  We need to see a plan that provides adequate investment – several times what is currently on offer – and the commitment to stop subsidies and permits for fossil fuel expansion as called for by the International Energy Agency (IEA).”
– Lyn Adamson, Co-Chair, ClimateFast 

“The passage of Bill C-12 offers the Canadian public some evidence of an urgently needed political commitment to addressing the climate crisis. Given the growing evidence that we must move into emergency mode. This positive response from the Government puts us on a path with greater potential for a sustainable future than we have had thus far.”
– Rose Dyson, Just Earth

“On behalf of future generations, our children, grandchildren, and children everywhere, GASP is pleased to see the government pass the C-12 Climate Accountability Act. We are heartened by this historic step to embed in law, a commitment that Canada achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. But we want to see the government shift into emergency mode. The UN has warned that the world has just 10 years to get far enough ahead of global warming. GASP is dedicated to fight for meaningful, effective climate action that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep the global temperature increase to 1.5°C.”
– Carole Holmes and Lorraine Green, Co-Chairs, GASP (Grand(m)others Act to Save the Planet)


Canada’s farthest-reaching network of organizations working on climate change and energy issues, Climate Action Network-Réseau Action Climat is a coalition of more than 130 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives.

For media inquiries:

Vicky Coo, communications lead, Climate Action Network Canada, 613-203-3272