A private member's bill that sets medium- and long-term targets for Canadian greenhouse gas emissions passed its second reading in the House of Commons Wednesday.

Bill C-311, the climate change accountability act, passed by a vote of 141-128 with the support of the NDP, Liberals and Bloc Québécois, confirmed the office of Bruce Hyer, the NDP member of Parliament who reintroduced the motion earlier this session. Hyer represents the Ontario riding of Thunder Bay-Superior North.

The bill calls for Canada to cut greenhouse gas emissions to:

  • 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.
  • 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

It also gives the government the authority to make regulations to meet the targets, including penalties for contravention.

An identical bill was introduced by NDP Leader Jack Layton in the last session of Parliament. It passed its final reading in the House of Commons in June, but died before making it through the Senate when the election was called in the fall.

The reintroduced bill has been referred to the standing committee on the environment, which has up to 60 days to propose amendments and changes to the bill before it goes back to the House for a third and final vote.

Andy Blair, a spokesman for Hyer's office, said the original bill was held up in committee by the Conservatives who opposed it. However, he expects the reintroduced bill to move through more quickly, as it has already been through committee once before.

Canada agreed to short-term greenhouse gas emission targets in 1998 when it signed the Kyoto Protocol, ratified four years later by the Liberal government at the time. That agreement was a pledge that Canada reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels by the five-year commitment period of 2008-12. Last year, Statistics Canada reported that Canada's greenhouse gas emissions rose 25 per cent between 1990 and 2005.