Climate and the Law

How youth-led climate litigation is making Canadian legal history

Seven young people are taking the Ford government to court because its watered down climate action plan will lead to widespread illness and death, violating Ontarians’ Charter-protected rights to life, liberty, and security of the person. As young people, the applicants say they and people like them will bear the costs of climate inaction more than previous generations.

On April 15, 2020, the government filed a motion to strike the case, arguing it should not proceed to a full hearing. The youth applicants countered this motion in July 2019, arguing that they deserved their day in Court.

This led to a historic win. For the first time in Canadian history, a court recognized that climate change has the potential to violate Charter rights and gave the youth the greenlight to move ahead to a full hearing.

Meet two of the youth and find out why they are doing this – webinar here


Fighting to uphold federal authority to lead unified, national action on the climate emergency

The science unequivocally asserts that climate threats will accelerate in the decades to come. This means young people are especially at risk and will be the ones to bear the costs of the climate emergency, including widespread illness and death, more than previous generations. Ecojustice.ca

In order to ensure provinces across the country do their fair share to tackle the climate emergency, the federal government introduced Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act — a backstop aimed at provinces that fail to implement a comparable emissions reduction strategy of their own.

Courts in Saskatchewan and Ontario upheld the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.  Meanwhile, Alberta’s court delivered a split (4-1) outlier decision that sided with the province.

Ecojustice lawyers will represent the David Suzuki Foundation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation as interveners before the Supreme Court of Canada hearings on this matter.


LA ROSE V. HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN

Our Children's Trust

Fifteen youth plaintiffs, ages 10 to 19 years old, filed the lawsuit against their federal government in the Federal Court of Canada, alleging that the Canadian government causes, contributes to and allows dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions, and is thus responsible for the specific, individualized climate change impacts they are experiencing. Find out more – here


JULIANA v. UNITED STATES

In 2015, 21 youth, and organizational plaintiff Earth Guardians, filed their constitutional climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, against the U.S. government. Their complaint asserts that, through the government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources. Find out more – here