Climate change is a national emergency that threatens the health, security, and well-being of all Canadians. Ecojustice lawyers are going to court to defend the federal government’s ability to respond to that emergency.

A recent report in The Lancet concluded that taking urgent action on climate change is the single most important thing governments can do right now to protect human health. The federal government, through its Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, is trying to do just that.

But a constitutional challenge filed by the Province of Saskatchewan — and supported by the Provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick — threatens to derail national action on climate change.

That is why Ecojustice lawyers — acting on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation — have jumped into the fray to support the federal government.

At stake in this case is the federal government’s ability to implement climate solutions on a national scale.

Later in December, we intend to apply to for leave to intervene on behalf of these same clients in a separate but similar reference case brought by Province of Ontario.

High stakes

These reference cases are important, because they will determine whether the federal government can force provinces to reduce the carbon pollution that is warming our planet — or whether provinces can opt out, leaving a national greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategy subject to the whims of a revolving-door of premiers and provincial governments.

There’s no question any more: Canada needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and fast. If the federal government can’t act to swiftly implement measures to dramatically cut Canada’s carbon emissions, we risk climate disaster.

These reductions need to happen on a national scale, with shared responsibility between all provinces. We’re not going to meet the targets we committed to in the Paris Agreement unless Canada acts collectively.

The science tells us we must limit warming to 1.5°C to avoid a dramatic increase in deadly health impacts, sea level rise, extreme weather, and biodiversity loss. This means Canada must cut emissions in half by 2030 and get to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Failure to do so will put the health, security and well-being of all Canadians at risk.

National emergency

We can’t let that happen, which is why we’ve entered the fight. We’re in some powerful company: the Province of British Columbia, which unveiled one of the most progressive climate plans in North America last week, is also intervening in support of the federal government’s position.

From where we stand, the law is clear: Protecting the environment is a shared federal and provincial responsibility.

The effects of climate change won’t respect provincial boundaries, and as the raging wildfires and deadly heatwaves of this past summer made clear, climate change is national emergency. Ecojustice is fighting to ensure the federal government has the ability to respond to that emergency.

Canada’s climate future is on the line. Now, more than ever, Ecojustice is committed to using the law to combat climate change and defend future generations. We hope we can we count on you to stand with us in this important legal fight.