As one of their last orders of business before the Nova Scotia Legislature adjourned on October 30, 2019 they passed the Sustainable Development Goals Act (Bill 213).
The Sustainable Development Goals Act repeals and replaces the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, (EGSPA) which became law in 2007. EGSPA included 21 specific goals including protecting 12% of Nova Scotia by 2015 and 40% of our energy from renewable sources by 2020. The Sustainable Development Goals Act includes 4 goals all related to action on climate change.
Bill 213 was introduced and passed in just one week. Despite the fact that the Bill passed second reading at 8:00 pm on Thursday, October 24 and was in front of the Law Amendments Committee (the only opportunity for public comment) at 11:00 am on Monday morning, the Committee received more than 85 written submissions and almost 50 in-person presentations.
Many of the presentations articulated concern that the climate goals, although currently the strongest in Canada, will not be enough to truly address the climate crisis. Others expressed disappointment over the significantly reduced number of goals in the Act.
East Coast Environmental Law shares many of the concerns expressed at Law Amendments. You can find our brief submission to Law Amendments here, and a more detailed submission to the EGSPA Review here.
Now that the SDGA is in place we will work with our colleagues, communities and citizens to encourage government to build on their commitments and develop a strong, forward-looking climate change strategy and develop additional important goals to be included in regulations.
The introduction of this Act is bittersweet, and we will continue to advocate for more from our political leaders. Nova Scotia may have set the highest bar within Canada, but it is clear that we must continue to reach higher.