Ambitious net-zero carbon footprint legislation passed in Nova Scotia - Retail Council of Canada
Advocacy | Nova Scotia | Sustainability

Ambitious net-zero carbon footprint legislation passed in Nova Scotia

November 8, 2019

The Nova Scotia government has passed legislation that will create the stiffest emissions reduction targets in the country.  Bill 213 – The Sustainable Development Goals Act will require Nova Scotia to:

  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 53 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and
  • reach a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050

The government’s strategy to achieving a net-zero carbon footprint will include balancing greenhouse gas emissions with greenhouse gas removals and other offsetting measures.

The Act does not provide many details as to how these goals will be achieved.  The government has committed to engage in stakeholder consultations prior to passing the accompanying regulations that inform Nova Scotians on how the government will achieve its ambitious environmental goals. 

Before the end of 2020, the Act mandates the creation of a strategic plan, that will address:

  • achieving the greenhouse gas emission targets,
  • adapting to the impacts of climate change and building climate resiliency,
  • accelerating the integration of sustainable and innovative technologies and approaches, and
  • achieving clean inclusive growth.

This Act replaces the province’s Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, which was set to expire at the end of 2019.


For years, Nova Scotia has been a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The former Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act (passed in 2007) set an ambitious goal of 2020 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the province by at least 10% below the levels that were emitted in 1990.  This goal, along with most of the other goals in the Act have been achieved.  Those that were not achieved have been added to the updated Act.

The updated Act and accompanying regulations will be reviewed every five years.  The Act will include funding that could be accessed by community-based climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. 

The Act will include a mandate for the Minister of Environment to provide an annual progress report to the House of Assembly.  The Act will also mandate the Premier to ensure that sustainable prosperity is included in the mandate of every Government department.

In recent years, the current government has faced criticism for what some have deemed a lack of meaningful action on environmental issues.  However, the Fall sitting of the Legislature saw the enactment of Bill 213 along with the passing of the Plastic Bags Reduction Act, which will ban single use plastic bags on October 30, 2020. 

Next Steps:

Retail Council of Canada (RCC) will defend the interests of retailers in the stakeholder consultation sessions as regulations are developed to accompany Bill 213.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Jim Cormier, Director (Atlantic) at: or (902) 422-4144