October 30, 2019
As one of the Nova Scotia Legislature's last orders of business before it adjourned on October 30, 2019, the Legislature passed the Sustainable Development Goals Act (Bill 213).
The Sustainable Development Goals Act repeals and replaces Nova Scotia's Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act ("EGSPA") which became law in 2007. EGSPA included 21 environmental goals that included protecting 12% of Nova Scotia's lands by 2015 and ensuring that 40% of the province's energy needs came from renewable sources by 2020. The Sustainable Development Goals Act includes 4 goals that are 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 that were expressed at Law Amendments. You can find our brief submission to Law Amendments here, and a more detailed submission to the EGSPA review process here.
Now that the Sustainable Development Goals Act is in place, we will work with our colleagues, communities, and others to encourage the Government of Nova Scotia to build on its commitments and develop a strong, forward-looking climate change strategy, along with further important environmental goals that we hope will be included in regulations under the Act.
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.