That bittersweet time of year is upon us — when long summer days get a little shorter and the chilly arms of fall reach out to pull us back into the depths of the cold Canadian winter.
But don’t let that fool you. Both figuratively and literally, environmental issues have been heating up, both on Canada’s political stage and in the courts. From problematic pipelines to persistent pesticides, Ecojustice has been hard at work from coast to coast to coast using the power of the law to protect the environment, the climate and our communities.
To top things off, we even managed to open a new office in Atlantic Canada!
To make sure you’re up to speed on what we’ve been up to and how it fits within the bigger picture, join us as we take a look back at some of the major moments from this past summer and what’s ahead for Ecojustice as we head into the fall season.
Climate change heats up while governments cool down
The science tells us that climate change is real, it is happening now and it is caused by human activity.
From wildfires in Greece to heatwaves in regions north of the Arctic Circle, this summer — one of the hottest on record — drove home the urgency of the global climate crisis, the impacts of which are being felt across Canada too.
Wildfires cloaked British Columbia in thick clouds of smoke during what government statistics indicated was the worst fire season in the province’s history — so far 1,250,383 hectares have burned across the province. Meanwhile, eastern provinces experienced both extreme heatwaves and flash floods this summer. And there’s one culprit that’s been linked to these extreme weather events near and far: Climate change.
The intensity and magnitude of the climate change-related disasters experienced across the country (and the world), make the federal government’s recent actions — it bought a multi-billion dollar pipeline and watered down its federal carbon pricing plan — even more baffling.
But there is reason to remain steadfast in optimism
The science also tells us that every megatonne of carbon we keep in the ground is a gift of hope to future generations that they will have a habitable future. That’s why it’s so important that our governments — at all levels — work towards making climate smart decisions and implement credible, ambitious policies that will drastically limit carbon emissions.
In the coming months, we’ll be exploring legal options to force Canada to do its part to take action on climate change.
Other work we have on the go:
- We’re helping our friends at Greenpeace Canada take the Province of Ontario to court for unlawfully cancelling the cap and trade program, without consulting the public; and
- We’ll be pushing for a strong climate plan in British Columbia and heading back to Parliament Hill to advocate for stronger laws that ensure transparency in environmental reviews and mandate that Canada’s climate obligations are factored into decision-making.
Many of us are familiar with the heart wrenching story of Tahlequah, the Southern Resident killer whale mother who carried her dead calf for more than two weeks this summer in what experts called a public and unprecedented display of grief. Tahlequah’s mourning prompted countless news stories and commentaries that all tied back to one common thread: With only 74 remaining members, this unique, salmon-eating population of killer whales is in crisis.
According to scientists, the most pressing threat to the Southern Residents is the lack of Chinook salmon, their preferred food source. Acoustic and physical disturbance from vessels, like those proposed as part of the recently axed Trans Mountain pipeline project, also hurt the whales’ ability to hunt.
Recognizing that this species is in dire need of protection, Ecojustice, along with our partners, filed a lawsuit earlier this month aimed at protecting the iconic Southern Resident killer whale.
And that’s not all we’re doing to stand up for nature.
Other work we have on the go:
- We were in court helping Alexandra Morton fight to save wild Pacific salmon;
- Our work to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence is charging ahead. You can expect to get more information on the upcoming hearing soon; and
- The fight to keep Jumbo wild continues.
Helping hands for healthy environments and communities
While the buzz may have been a little quieter over the summer, our case to protect pollinators from a harmful class of pesticides, known as neonics, will finally be heard later this fall after several attempts by government and industry to silence the case.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has proposed phasing out outdoor uses of bee-killing pesticides. It’s a good first step, but the reality is that the proposed phase-out will not happen fast enough to prevent harm to aquatic invertebrates and pollinator species which already face declines — studies have shown population decline and shortened lifespans in domesticated and wild bees populations exposed to neonics.
Pesticides aren’t the only thing threatening the environment and communities.
Volkswagen’s role in ‘diesel-gate’ has also been on our minds. Last year we sued the government for failing to prosecute a company that has already pled guilty and openly admitted it defrauded consumers and polluted our atmosphere. And ever since, we have been fighting to gain access to important government documents. This case hasn’t been easy but we remain committed to ensuring this polluter pays for what it’s done to the air we breathe.
Other work we have on the go:
- We’re still demanding answers about the Imperial Oil flaring incident;
- Our work to ensure that all Ontarians’ right to clean air is fulfilled pushes forward; and
- Despite reform of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act getting stuck in a holding pattern for the foreseeable future, our work to secure legal recognition of your right to a healthy environment continues.
As you can see, our fall docket is jam-packed. But as always, your support ensures that the Ecojustice team can put our best foot forward when it comes time for us to step into the courtroom.
We hope we can continue to count on you to be part of our efforts to build the case for a better earth for present and future generations.
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