Toronto, June 28, 2019 – In a judgement handed down today, the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed the federal government has the power to step in when the province fails to effectively tackle climate change.
Following the release of the court’s decision, Ecojustice lawyer and climate program director Alan Andrews issued the following statement:
“When a premier like Doug Ford attempts to derail nationally-coordinated efforts to combat climate change, the federal government has the power to step in to defend Canadians. Ecojustice welcomes today’s ruling.
“Doug Ford has tried to turn climate inaction into one of his signature policies — a move that is wildly out of touch with the science and with the level of concern Canadians have about the climate crisis. However, the science, the federal government, and now multiple Canadian courts agree: We are in a climate emergency that threatens the health, safety, and well-being of all Canadians.
“Now that the Greens, NDP, and Conservatives have released their environmental platforms for the upcoming federal election, all eyes will be on the Liberals to see if they are able to capitalize on the momentum generated by today’s court victory.
“Today’s victory must be backed by real action — action that is grounded in the rule of law. It should also serve as an impetus for a Liberal platform that commits to strong climate laws that:
- Heed the science and set legally-binding targets that ensure Canada — at minimum — cuts its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, and reaches zero emissions by 2050 at the latest,
- Require the government to develop and deliver plans to meet those targets, and
- Empower Canadians to hold the government to account for combatting climate change.
“The majority of Canadians agree. Two-thirds of Canadians* say we need mandatory and legally-binding emissions targets to effectively tackle climate change.
“The impacts of climate change are already distressingly clear to many Canadians. People living in the North face increased difficulty accessing traditional foods. Elsewhere, extreme heat waves and wildfires put the health of vulnerable people — seniors, those without adequate housing, and those with chronic health problems — at risk. The youngest among us will inherit an increasingly uncertain and chaotic world that limits their ability to dream about the future.
“Climate change transcends party politics, geography, and identity. Canada’s climate is warming faster than the rest of the world — and as the world’s leading scientists have warned, we have just 11 years to take dramatic action to avert the worst impacts of climate change. It’s time to get to work.”
* These results are based on telephone interviews with more than 2,000 Canadian adults, conducted by Environics. The margin of error for a random probability sample of this size is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points at the 95 per cent confidence level.
- Ecojustice, intervening in the proceedings on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation, argued that climate change amounts to a national emergency.
- On behalf of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Ecojustice also told the court that a national climate plan better serves the interests of First Nations communities.
- Today’s decision follows a victory in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, which confirmed earlier this year that federal government has the ability to take national action to tackle the climate emergency. Ecojustice also intervened in that case.
- The Supreme Court of Canada has set a tentative date of December 5 to hear a challenge on the matter.