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Wilkinson Tips Early Moves on Just Transition Act, Tougher 2030 Carbon Target

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The second-term Trudeau government is considering kicking off its legislative response to the climate crisis with a new Just Transition Act, adjustments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), and new carbon reduction measures aimed at exceeding its Harper-era goal of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030, iPolitics reports, citing an interview late last week with Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

“Wilkinson said the government had not yet decided which environmental legislation it would introduce first,” iPolitics writes [1]. “However, he signalled they may move soon on laws to facilitate the transition of fossil fuel workers to jobs that fit in a ‘low-carbon global economy’, which the Liberals said will be introduced as the Just Transition Act.”

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Wilkinson said Ottawa will also develop a new, more ambitious carbon reduction target in time for this year’s UN climate conference, COP 26, in Glasgow in November. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s when we will announce the target,” he told iPolitics. “We’re going to be developing the new target as we look at different initiatives and how we can actually close the remaining amount of emissions reductions we need to find.”

One option under consideration: Ottawa could set its sights on reducing emissions from landfill gas, which accounts for 20% of the country’s methane output.

“Climate change is clearly the top, or certainly one of the top priorities of this government, and it’s important, we know, that we deliver on the commitments that we made to Canadians,” Wilkinson said.

Another top item on the Liberals’ agenda, a ban on single-use plastics, would be introduced through amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. “The version of CEPA that was passed in 1999 sought to eliminate toxic substances from the environment, and included provisions to regulate vehicle, equipment, and other engine emissions, and encouraged cooperation with other levels of governments to improve the protection of the environment,” iPolitics explains. “The Liberals have also promised during this mandate to expand the conservation of Canada’s land and oceans to include 25% of all of them by 2025, and to attempt to increase the protected areas to 30% by 2030.”