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Trudeau government tables legislation, targets net-zero emissions by 2050

FILE - A flare stack lights the sky along refinery row in Edmonton Alta, on Friday December 28, 2018. Alberta's new budget cuts funds for environmental monitoring and managing greenhouse gas emissions. Critics say the moves will weaken the province's ability to track pollution and reduce its contribution to climate change. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The Trudeau government is setting aggressive goals to tackle climate change

New legislation tabled Thursday sets legally binding targets every five years, with goal of net-zero by 2050

Canada has a poor track record when it comes to environmental targets

OTTAWA – The federal government is looking to fulfill an environmental election promise, tabling new legislation Thursday with the goal of reaching net-zero emissions.

Canada has a poor track record when it comes to curbing emissions, failing to meet a single one of its targets in the three decades.

Canada missed its 2012 target under the Kyoto accord by more than 100 million tonnes and at the end of this year will miss its 2020 target by even more than that. The difference is more than we emit to heat and power the entire country.

However, the Trudeau government is hoping to change that with its bill, which will set legally binding climate targets every five years, with the goal of hitting net zero emissions by the year 2050.

“Bill C-12 lays out a framework of accountability and transparency that will ensure we reach this goal in a way that gives Canadians confidence. This is a fundamental step in our strategy to build a strong, resilient economy that works for everyone,” says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He says the bill isn’t just about doing the right thing.

“It’s also about doing the smart thing in terms of creating economic opportunities.”

That means any emissions still produced 30 years from now are absorbed, rather than left in the atmosphere to contribute to global warming.

“We have taken real and significant action on fighting climate change every year of our mandate over the past five years,” Trudeau says.

Making the targets legally binding is an effort to force future governments to stay on this track.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson claims this new road map will help Canada outpace its goals from the Paris Climate Accord.

Its Paris target is to reduce emissions by 30 per cent compared to 2005 levels by 2030. Current policies, including the carbon tax, banning coal power plants and regulating methane emissions in the oil and gas industry, will only get Canada about two-thirds of the way there.

The prime minister is expected to speak on the matter later on Thursday.