Posted on September 22, 2020 (updated: September 21, 2020)

Climate emergency demands unified government response, groups to argue at Supreme Court of Canada

Fort McMurray Alberta
Photo by kris krüg, via Flickr

OTTAWA — Ecojustice lawyers and their client, the David Suzuki Foundation, are confident that the Supreme Court of Canada will uphold the federal government’s legal authority to implement national measures to combat climate change.

The provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan are appealing lower court rulings that upheld the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and affirmed the federal government’s ability to ensure all levels of government do their part to tackle the climate crisis. British Columbia is appealing the Alberta court’s ruling that the federal carbon-pricing law is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court of Canada will be the last stop in deciding whether the government can continue with its national climate plan, which includes putting a price on carbon emissions.

Ecojustice lawyers, on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation, will argue before the court on Sept. 23, 2020 that Canada has the duty and the legal authority to ensure that all levels of government do their part to respond to the climate emergency with a national carbon-pricing policy.

Representatives from the groups made the following statements in advance of their court appearance this week.

Joshua Ginsberg, lawyer with Ecojustice’s law clinic at the University of Ottawa said: 

“Provincial opposition to meaningful climate action remains a massive stumbling block to Canada’s climate progress. Even as industry support grows for common sense, proven climate solutions — like carbon pricing — some provinces actively oppose these measures.
“The window of opportunity to turn the tide on the climate emergency is now. Over the past few months, we’ve seen what governments across the country can do when they work together to tackle a global health threat.

“We are confident that the Supreme Court of Canada will make clear that tackling the climate emergency with urgent, unified, science-based action nationwide is the shared responsibility of provincial and federal governments.”

Ian Bruce, David Suzuki Foundation chief operating officer said: 

“As we’ve seen with Canada’s response to the pandemic, we’re all well-served when we work together and listen to the science. Putting a price on carbon is a critical part of any fair and effective climate plan. Canada must have the power to enact a climate recovery plan for the sake of our health, our children and future generations.

“This is not the time to delay action because a few provincial leaders are unwilling to follow what climate science says is necessary. Inaction is not an option and no jurisdiction can shirk its responsibility to act. All people in Canada deserve to be protected through a national approach to address the climate crisis.”

Background:

– The David Suzuki Foundation, represented by Ecojustice lawyers, participated in the Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta lower court proceedings.
– Ecojustice lawyers are also representing the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation as a separate intervener in this week’s hearing.

About

Ecojustice goes to court and uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, innovative public interest lawsuits lead to legal precedents that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax. The University of Ottawa and Ecojustice 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.

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.

For media inquiries

Venetia Jones, communications specialist |Ecojustice
vjones@ecojustice.ca, 613 447 5456

Theresa Beer | David Suzuki Foundation
tbeer@davidsuzuki.org, 778-874-3396

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