Published: Sat, November 21, 2020

Bill lays groundwork for possible court enforcement of climate law, says Amos

Bill lays groundwork for possible court enforcement of climate law, says Amos

"After five years in power, and a record of unfulfilled emissions reductions commitments, the government has given us more smoke and mirrors", Green Party Leader Annamie Paul told reporters on Thursday.

The proposed legislation doesn't say what those targets will be. It would also require the finance minister to report annually on what is being done to mitigate the financial risks caused by climate change. The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to plant two billion trees.

Newly tabled federal legislation would give the public the opportunity to seek court orders forcing governments to abide by their climate commitments, says a Liberal parliamentary secretary.

"We make hydrogen and we use it to make fertilizer", said Dan Wicklum, the Calgary-based CEO of Transition Accelerator.Wicklum said governments previously tried to reduce emissions by mandating certain sectors reduce their emissions to targeted levels either through regulation or taxation, but a hydrogen-based energy system could enable countries around the world to set and meet net-zero carbon targets.Despite the potential for Alberta and Canada to be a hydrogen supplier, worldwide competitors are already moving into the market."Our competitors so far are Australia and Saudi Arabia", Wicklum said, noting that both countries have already sold hydrogen of hydrogen to buyers in Japan.In September, Saudi Arabia sent a shipment of blue hydrogen to Japan, said to be the world's first shipment of the energy source.

West Coast Environmental Law staff lawyer Andrew Gage said the government should be prioritizing more immediate action by setting a 2025 target. While the largest corporations contribute overwhelmingly to global greenhouse gas emissions, the rise in unemployment and reduced hours as a result of the economic downturn has decreased climate change issues.

If passed, the bill would require the government to answer to Parliament every five years - 2030, 2035, 2040, and 2050 - and to report on progress made on a rolling basis.

But mandatory targets (and mandatory reporting of them) are meaningless unless there's an enforcement mechanism should the government fail to achieve its targets.

"Any government that does not have a plan to meet the targets will hear from the voters", he said.

The proposed legislation would establish a 15-member advisory board to guide the government's targets and plans to meet them.

"It is ultimately up to Canadians to continue to choose governments that are serious about reducing climate change and that will be accountable to Canadians every five years".

"In particular there's work to be done ensuring that this bill drives ambition in the near term, rather than simply backloading all of the work on climate change to decades from now", said Abreu.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 19, 2020. A previous version said NDP environment critic Laurel Collins said the next 10 years are critical to halting global warming below 2 C above pre-industrial levels. Collins did not provide a temperature.

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