In a Federal Courtroom today, Canada will become the first country ever to be brought to court for failing to comply with its legal commitments to combat global warming.
On behalf of Friends of the Earth Canada, pro-bono lawyers from Paliare Roland Barristers and Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund) will be in court today challenging the Government of Canada for violating the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (KPIA), a federal law which came into force less than one year ago.
“The case is about defending the fundamental principle that the government must be accountable and comply with the law”, said Ecojustice lawyer Hugh Wilkins. “The government cannot pick and choose which laws to obey. The law is the law.”
The KPIA sets out mandatory legal obligations and deadlines that the government is required to meet, including the publication of a climate change plan and the enactment of regulations to ensure that Canada takes effective and timely action to meet its international treaty obligations regarding under the Kyoto Protocol. The lawsuit alleges that the federal government has not complied with these requirements or met the deadlines set out in the Act.
“Put simply, Canada has failed to comply with the law,” said eminent Canadian lawyer Chris Paliare. “We are asking the court to declare that the government is bound by the law and must be held accountable to the will of Parliament.”
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement that has been ratified by 180 countries to date and sets targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Of the 38 industrialized nations with binding international targets, Canada is the only country that has indicated that it does not intend to meet its international obligations.
“While other industrialized countries actively work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change, our government has offered pollution holidays for emitters for decades to come,” said Friends of the Earth Canada Chief Executive Officer Beatrice Olivastri. “This government has broken the law and, as Canadian citizens, we have both a moral and legal imperative to insist on enforcement of our own laws on climate action.”
The lawsuit seeks a declaration from the Court that the government has not complied with the law and an order requiring it to do so.
The hearing will commence at 9:30 am on Wednesday June 18, 2008 at the Federal Court, 180 Queen Street West in Toronto.