Open Letter from Faith Communities on Bill C-12, The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act

On November 19, 2020, Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson introduced Bill C-12, the “Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act.” This bill represents a significant milestone in the development of Canada’s climate policy, linking our domestic reporting schedule with the timelines set by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It echoes the emissions-reduction approach taken by local, regional, and national faith communities in Canada: establishing a baseline, taking action to reduce emissions, and tracking progress.

The legislation also requires Canada to establish a new 2030 emissions reduction target within six months of the bill becoming law and sets critical interim targets on the path to 2050. Unfortunately the first target date is still 10 years out, rendering accountability measures ineffective in the interim.

In collaboration with our colleague organizations in For the Love of Creation, CPJ submitted an open letter to Minister Jonathan Wilkinson urging him to strengthen the climate accountability legislation without delay.

In the cover note that accompanied the letter we also acknowledged the announcement of Canada’s new climate plan, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy,” and noted the critical importance of continued action towards the execution of this plan.

Cette lettre est aussi disponible en français (PDF).

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson 
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON   K1A 0A6

December 16, 2020

Open Letter from Faith Communities on
Bill C-12, The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act

Dear Minister Wilkinson,

On behalf of For the Love of Creation, we would like to commend you and the federal government for tabling Bill C-12, The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. We also would like to take this opportunity to share our recommendations towards increased climate ambition at the federal level.

For the Love of Creation is a national initiative that brings together faith bodies and faith-based organizations in Canada under a unified banner to mobilize education, reflection, action and advocacy for climate justice. In the face of the urgent, global climate crisis, we have come together as people of faith to contribute to ensuring a sustainable future for all life on the planet.

Bill C-12 is a significant milestone in the development of our nation’s climate policy, which we would hope guides all Canadians to support the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. We are pleased to note that the proposed legislation provides a logical link in Canada’s domestic reporting schedule with the timelines set by our commitment to reporting under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

We are also well-aware that Bill C-12 does not require Canada to reduce emissions to net-zero by 2050 – it merely states this IPCC goal is to be a target. Canada has never yet met one of its climate reduction commitments – we definitely want this situation to change. We encourage your government to act on your plan to achieve the emissions reductions commitments that science requires and which we promised to achieve by signing the Paris Accord.

Bill C-12 also sets dates every five years for meeting (yet-unspecified) GHG reduction targets and will helpfully mandate progress reports every two-and-a-half years. But we are disappointed to read that the first target will not be set for a decade. We urge you to amend the Bill so that the first target is at least moved up to the year 2025. Doing so would introduce concrete measures in the present and thereby avoid tougher requirements in latter years.

In conclusion, Mr. Minister, while we were glad to see the tabling of Bill C-12, it should be strengthened, and further steps undertaken without delay. A federal plan to reduce emissions is essential, explaining how Canada will legislate a definite commitment to reach net-zero. This plan must (the current draft reads “may”) include measures taken by provincial and Indigenous governments, municipal authorities, and the private sector. Faith communities are especially desirous of seeing all legislation (including C-12) align with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which on December 3, Justice Minister Lametti indicated was part of the intent of the Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Bill C-15).

The members of For the Love of Creation are anxious to see our government lead the country into fulfilling our international climate commitments with strong compliance mechanisms and transparent and inclusive reporting. We look forward to joining you in the hard work that lies ahead.

We join in prayer for the success of climate action in Canada, and remain, 

Yours sincerely,

The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, Primate and Archbishop, The Anglican Church of Canada

The Most Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop, The Anglican Church of Canada

Fr. Alain Ambeault, c.s.v., Executive Director, Canadian Religious Conference / Conférence religieuse canadienne

Marilyn Manzer and Beverly Shepard, Clerks of Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Joe Gunn, Executive Director/Directeur général, Centre Oblat – A Voice for Justice

Willard Metzger, Executive Director, Citizens for Public Justice

Sr. Agnes Campbell, Congregational Leader, Congrégation de Notre-Dame

Sr. Elizabeth Davis, Congregational Leader, Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland

Serge Langlois, Executive Director, Development & Peace-Caritas Canada

Rev. Michelle Singh, Executive Director, Faith & the Common Good

The Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Sr. Mary Anne McCarthy, President, Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada

Mark Hathaway, Executive Director, Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice

Jennifer Henry, Executive Director, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

Rick Cober Bauman, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee Canada

Rita Janes, Chair, Mercy Centre for Peace and Justice

Sr. Frances Brady, Congregational Leader, Our Lady’s Missionaries

Rev. Amanda Currie, Moderator, The Presbyterian Church in Canada

Will Postma, Executive Director, Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund

Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, Chair, Reform Rabbis of Canada

Sr. Mary Beth McCurdy, Congregational Leader, Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception (Saint John, NB)

Sr. Denise Kuyp, Congregational Leader, Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions

Sr. Margo Ritchie, Congregational Leader, Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada

The Right Rev. Richard Bott, Moderator / Modérateur, The United Church of Canada / L’Église Unie du Canada

The Rev. Murray Pruden, Executive Minister, Indigenous Ministries and Justice, The United Church of Canada

Ida Kaastra-Mutoigo, Executive Director, World Renew Canada


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