Ecojustice Case – Climate change Case Status: In Progress

Fighting to uphold federal authority to lead unified, national action on the climate emergency

Josh GinsbergJosh GinsbergLawyer
Amir AttaranEcojustice Alumni
Athabasca Chipewyan First NationClient
David Suzuki FoundationClient
Supreme Court of Canada
Photo by Dig deeper CC BY 4.0

The science unequivocally asserts that climate threats will accelerate in the decades to come. This means young people are especially at risk and will be the ones to bear the costs of the climate emergency, including widespread illness and death, more than previous generations.

To effectively combat the climate emergency, we need to take unified, urgent, and ambitious climate action to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.

In order to ensure provinces across the country do their fair share to tackle the climate emergency, the federal government introduced Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act — a backstop aimed at provinces that fail to implement a comparable emissions reduction strategy of their own.

In response, Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan all launched separate constitutional challenges of the Act.

Courts in Saskatchewan and Ontario upheld the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and confirmed the federal government has the power to step in when the province fails to effectively tackle climate change. Both provinces appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC).

Meanwhile, Alberta’s court delivered a split (4-1) outlier decision that sided with the province.

Ecojustice lawyers will represent the David Suzuki Foundation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation as interveners before the Supreme Court of Canada hearings on this matter.


Why is Ecojustice involved?

The climate emergency requires a collective approach and, given the risk of non-participation by one or more provinces, Canada must be permitted to enforce minimum national standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We are going to the SCC to reinforce the lower court precedents affirming the federal government’s jurisdiction to introduce and implement climate solutions — including its ability to set a minimum national price on greenhouse gas emissions.

Ecojustice lawyers previously represented the David Suzuki Foundation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation as interveners in constitutional references brought by Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan.


What could a victory mean?

At stake before the Supreme Court of Canada is the federal government’s ability to take strong and urgent national action to reduce carbon emissions and protect the health of Canadians from the dangerous effects of the climate emergency.

A victory in this case will ensure the federal government has the legal authority to introduce and implement ambitious climate solutions, such as setting and enforcing more aggressive emissions reduction targets.

Build the case for a better earth

Thanks to the support of people like you, Ecojustice goes to court to protect what we value most — the air, land and water that sustains all life. Make your gift today and support bold litigation for a brighter environmental future.

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