REGINA – The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled today that the federal government has the power to take national action to tackle climate change.
The decision upholds the federal government’s ability to set a minimum national price on greenhouse gas emissions. It also means that Parliament will be able to enact time-limited measures to respond to climate change in the future.
Ecojustice represented the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and the David Suzuki Foundation in the reference case, which asked the court to weigh in on whether the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was constitutional.
On behalf of its clients, Ecojustice was the sole group to advance an argument that the law could also be supported under Parliament’s power to deal with a national emergency.
While the Court found that the law was not sufficiently temporary to qualify as emergency legislation, it agreed that “climate change is doubtless an emergency in the sense that it presents a genuine threat to Canada.” This is a judicial first.
Representatives from Ecojustice and the David Suzuki Foundation issued the following statements in response to the decision. For inquiries about the ACFN case, please contact the ACFN directly.
Joshua Ginsberg, Ecojustice lawyer, said:
“Today’s historic ruling makes it clear: The federal government has the power to bring Canada together to combat climate change.
“The science tells us that Canada’s climate is warming twice as fast as in the rest of the world. With only 11 years to ward off the worst impacts of climate change, Ecojustice calls on Canada to continue to take urgent, national climate action by introducing strong, enforceable laws that will get us to zero emissions by 2050.”
Ian Bruce, director of science and policy at the David Suzuki Foundation said:
“Today’s decision paves the way for a strong, fair, and unified approach to tackling climate change across the country. Recent reports on Canada’s warming and extreme weather just add urgency to use all the tools in our tool box to shrink harmful carbon pollution and set Canada on the right path forward.”
The University of Ottawa and Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity, 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.