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A group of youth stand together with serious expressions. They are sitting on grass and rocks brought into a studio.

Photographer Tilly Nelson, set design Kendra Martyn & Kira Evenson

press release

Youth-led climate case in Ontario heads back to court 

January 15, 2024

Toronto, Ont./ Traditional territories of several First Nations including the Williams Treaties First Nations, Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation — Seven young people at the helm of Mathur et. al., a historic youth-led climate case, are back in court today in what will be a crucial moment in the fight against the climate emergency in Canada. The group is at the Court of Appeal for Ontario, continuing their legal challenge of the Ontario government’s decision to significantly weaken the province’s 2030 climate target. 

Sophia, Zoe, Shaelyn, Alex, Shelby, Madi, and Beze, backed by lawyers from Ecojustice and Stockwoods LLP, are fighting to protect their generation and future generations from government caused climate harms.  

The case faced a setback in April 2023 when it was dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court, however the decision included several positive findings. In her decision, Justice Marie-Andrée Vermette agreed with the youth applicants that climate change will have a disproportionate impact on youth and Indigenous Peoples. The judge also found the Ontario government is risking people’s health and lives by setting a dangerously low and unscientific target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

As the climate crisis intensifies, youth around the world have increasingly turned to climate litigation as a key tool to push governments to take this emergency seriously. These seven young Ontarians have already made Canadian legal history and are determined to continue fighting for a safer future. 

Madison Dyck, Thunder Bay, Ont., said: 

“The amount of time, passion, and energy that has collectively gone into this lawsuit has been incredible. I continue to feel proud of our team, and in awe of my fellow litigants. This case feels more important than ever as we come out of the hottest year on record, and it could not be more critical that the Ontario Government acts accordingly.” 

Beze Gray, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Ont., said: 

“There is urgency with this historic youth-led climate case going to court for climate action and for future generations. This case holds precedence and change towards a caring future. The voices of youth must matter in Canadian law, including our hopes and sights for the future.  

“What happens to the land happens to the people. For youth, our futures depend on action today. Protecting the land from climate change now is protecting Indigenous culture, language, ceremony, and land-based practices for sovereignty and self-determination.” 

Sophia Mathur, Sudbury, Ont., said: 

“As young leaders, we refuse to be silenced by setbacks. Our fight against Ontario’s inadequate climate targets is undeterred. Heading to the Court of Appeal, we stand resolute, unwavering in our commitment to protect the rights of all and secure a sustainable future for generations to come.” 

Danielle Gallant, lawyer, Ecojustice said: 

“This legal challenge comes at a crucial moment for climate action in Ontario and the world at large. Data just released in the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, 2023 report confirms that last year was the hottest year on record. Now it is time for the government to turn up the heat on climate action.  

“These seven courageous young people have put the impact of climate change on youth and future generations at the forefront of the national debate. They are calling on their elected leaders to step up and accept their responsibility to protect Ontarians today and for generations to come.” 

Nader Hasan, partner at Stockwoods and lead counsel to the Applicants, said: 

“The Ontario government’s climate plan puts us on a path to climate catastrophe. It threatens the lives and safety of all Ontarians. We can no longer afford to be complacent while we wait for Ontario to do the right thing. That’s why our clients — these seven courageous young climate advocates — have taken this government to court.” 

Attending the hearing 

The hearing will be open for members of the media and public to attend in person. Space in the courtroom is not guaranteed, but an overflow room should be provided. The hearing will also be streamed live. 
In-person attendance details 

Date: Monday, January 15, 2024 – Tuesday, January 16, 2024 
Time: Appeal hearing begins at 10 am ET 
Location: Osgoode Hall, Courtroom 1 (overflow space may be provided) 
Address: 130 Queen St. West, Toronto, Ontario, M5H 2N5 

Virtual attendance details 

Please click this link to access the public hearing livestream: https://ca01web.zoom.us/j/69275629468?pwd=NlJ5TXlrbVpyU09IZDhnL2FGOEZ4Zz09; Passcode: 588969  
Or join by telephone: Dial +1 647 374 4685 or 833 955 1088 (Canada Toll Free) 
Webinar ID: 692 7562 9468; Passcode: 588969 
For additional numbers (including international): https://ca01web.zoom.us/u/gy0FeMzX7 

Please note: unless permission is given by the court, it is an offence under s. 136 of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43, punishable by a fine of not more than $25,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both, to record any part of the hearing, including by way of screenshot/capture and photograph, as well as to publish, broadcast, reproduce or disseminate any such recording. 


Group and individual photos of the applicants are available for download here.

Photo attribution: (photo by Tilly Nelson, set design Kendra Martyn & Kira Evenson)

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