Jump to Content
Doug Ford addresses an audience in Sudbury, Ontario

Doug Ford via CC-BY-SA 2.0

press release

Climate change is emergency that needs national response, group argues in Ontario reference case

April 16, 2019

TORONTO, 16 April 2019 — Ecojustice lawyers representing the David Suzuki Foundation are in court this week to argue that the risks of climate change and our ability to counter it effectively require a national and urgent response.

“The evidence is piling up that we must take decisive action on climate change now if we want to avoid leaving catastrophic situations for our children and grandchildren to deal with. We support the federal government’s ability to prioritize clean energy solutions to rapidly reduce carbon pollution across the country,” said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce.

The Foundation was one of many interveners supporting the federal government’s jurisdiction to implement an effective and fair national climate plan that prices carbon pollution. Interveners represented groups of Canadians that are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change: young Canadians, older Canadians and Indigenous nations. Doctors, nurses and the Province of B.C. also intervened in support of the federal government’s position, citing concern for the worsening effects of climate change on human health and the environment.

“Pricing carbon not only works to reduce pollution, but it’s also fair. Although it makes polluting more expensive, it makes greener choices more affordable.  Those who pollute pay and for every cent increase on polluting fuels most Canadians will get that cent back in rebates allowing their families to invest in energy savings,” Bruce said.

A national carbon-pricing plan is a necessary part of Canada’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb the negative environmental, economic, physical and mental health effects caused by inaction on climate change. Requiring all provinces to reduce their emissions upholds principles of fairness and effectiveness.

“Canada won’t be able to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions quickly enough to avoid a future of disastrous climate effects unless all provinces, including Ontario, are on board,” said Ecojustice lawyer Joshua Ginsberg. “Premier Doug Ford is dragging Ontario down the wrong road on climate change and wants to bring Canada along with him. The federal government has a responsibility to protect the well-being of all Canadians, and this means taking climate action at a national level.”

A report on Canada’s climate, released two weeks ago, concluded Canada has been warming at about twice as the global average – and this will continue in the future. To stave off the worst impacts of climate change and meet the commitments it made in Paris, Canada must — at minimum — cut its emissions in half by 2030 and get to zero emissions by 2050.

Achieving these reductions will require the provinces and federal government to work together to implement climate action on a national scale.

“The Ontario government doesn’t have a plan to fight climate change. Instead, it is infringing on the right of younger generations to enjoy a prosperous future and fighting climate solutions in court, wasting time and taxpayer money,” Bruce said.

Ontario launched a reference case challenging the federal carbon pollution pricing plan, after cancellation of the province’s emissions cap and trade system, which would have complied with the federal standard.


The David Suzuki Foundation (davidsuzuki.org) is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, collaborating with all people in Canada, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. The Foundation operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

The University of Ottawa and Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity, are partners in the uOttawa-Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic, a problem-based educational learning course designed to help train the next generation of environmental law and policy leaders.