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Supreme Court endorses climate action to protect our children

Thursday, March 25, 2021

VANCOUVER, BC, Musqueam, Squamish & Tsleil-Waututh Territories – West Coast Environmental Law applauds today’s decision by the Supreme Court upholding Canada’s price on carbon pollution, which confirmed the responsibility of all levels of government to take action to address the climate crisis, and the overarching responsibility of the Canadian government to ensure that youth and future generations inherit a healthy atmosphere.

In light of this decision, the legal organization urged the Canadian government to ramp up its climate ambition and to strengthen and enact Bill C-12 without delay to ensure that Canada meets its future climate goals.

“Canada has missed every climate goal it has set for itself, in large part because of inconsistent and half-hearted efforts by both federal and provincial governments,” noted Staff Lawyer Andrew Gage. “This decision makes it clear: the buck stops with the federal government. The Canadian government must work cooperatively to encourage provincial action, but it can also step in when provinces fail and take the steps required to protect Canadians from climate change.”

West Coast lawyers say today’s victory has the potential to result in environmental benefits well beyond climate action.

“It is a landmark decision for the environment,” said Staff Lawyer Anna Johnston. “By rejecting the provinces’ attempts to minimize federal authority over climate, the Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that when it comes to environmental protection, we need all hands on deck.” 

“Canada is warming at twice the global average – leading to increased floods, wildfires and other climate disasters,” warned Climate Scientist Dr. Silvie Harder. “With today’s decision the Canadian government is well placed to increase its climate ambition, bring our fossil fuel addiction under control and align with what the global scientific community says is needed to keep Canadians safe.”

West Coast experts urged the Canadian government to press forward with its Net Zero Emissions Accountability Act, Bill C-12, which has been languishing in Parliament. “Carbon pricing is good – but a strengthened Bill C-12 will ensure that current and future governments keep working to achieve our climate targets,” said Gage.

West Coast Environmental Law’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund provided financial and legal support to allow Generation Squeeze to intervene on behalf of youth in the Supreme Court appeal.


For more information, please contact:

Andrew Gage | Staff Lawyer

Dr. Silvie Harder | Climate Scientist

Anna Johnston | Staff Lawyer