Statement from Environmental Defence Program Director Keith Brooks on the Saskatchewan Court upholding the federal carbon pricing law

Court deems law is constitutional and affirms right of Federal Government to set a minimum level of carbon pricing across Canada

Toronto, Ont. – It is great news that the Saskatchewan Court has upheld Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. Climate change is hurting Canadians now. Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world and urgent action is needed. Many parts of this country are flooded and the link to climate change is very clear. The impacts of climate change will only get worse unless action is taken. Today’s ruling affirms that climate change is an existential threat, and that all levels of government have the authority to take action.

Carbon pricing is widely agreed to be one of the most fair and cost effective ways to fight climate change and reduce emissions. And the court’s ruling affirms this. In fact, the court found that carbon pricing is an “essential aspect or element of the global effort to limit GHG emissions.” Provinces were widely consulted on the need for pricing and given the opportunity to develop their own pricing systems. Many did so. But the federal government was right to step in and apply its pricing mechanism in provinces that chose not to develop their own systems. Thankfully the courts agree.

With this ruling, we call upon other provincial governments who are fighting the constitutionality of carbon pricing to accept that pricing is here to stay. We also call on these governments to start telling the truth about the federal system and stop omitting the fact that, with the rebate, most Canadians will be better off financially. It’s time for our governments to stop wasting our tax dollars and time we don’t have fighting climate policy and start working together to fight climate change with the level of ambition needed.

Background Information:

  • Environmental Defence was an intervenor in the hearing, represented by the Canadian Environmental Law Association.
  • The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal is the highest court in Saskatchewan.
  • The court upheld the law under the Peace Order and Good Government (POGG) powers. Specifically the ruling says that “the establishment of minimum national standards of price stringency for GHG emissions is a matter falling within federal jurisdiction by virtue of the national concern branch of POGG.
  • The court found that the law is not unconstitutional in whole or in part.
  • The court deemed that the carbon pricing system is in fact a regulatory charge and not an unconstitutional tax.
  • The court has recognized that climate change is “one of the great existential threats of our time” and that all levels of government have the power to act.

The full ruling is available here: https://sasklawcourts.ca/images/documents/CA_2019SKCA040.pdf

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Barbara Hayes, Communications Manager, Environmental Defence; bhayes@environmentaldefence.ca