Toronto, Ont. – Today’s decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal again shows that all levels of government can and must act decisively to enact strong, enforceable laws to fight climate change. Two separate provincial courts have now upheld the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and the federal government’s power to act on climate change when provinces refuse to do their fair share.

Climate change is a crisis requiring an unprecedented response. Canada is warming twice as quickly as the rest of the world. The court found that there is “uncontested evidence” that climate change is leading to more wildfires, floods, extinctions, and new diseases on a scale we’ve never seen before. The court also found that climate change “has had a particularly serious impact on some Indigenous communities in Canada.”

Thankfully the courts have again ruled that the federal government has the authority to respond to this crisis with strong, national action.

As the court confirmed, carbon pollution can’t be contained within borders. So if one province fails to act, everyone suffers. This is why the carbon pricing backstop is needed in Ontario now more than ever.

Premier Ford has systematically destroyed Ontario’s programs to reduce carbon pollution, and has no viable plan to act on climate change despite what the government claims. While Ontario’s government is wasting time and money fighting a viable climate solution in court, its citizens are fighting to contain fires and floods in an escalating climate crisis.

Background Information:

  • The Ontario Court of Appeal is the highest court in Ontario. Environmental Defence was an intervenor in the hearing.
  • Two separate provincial courts have now upheld the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act- Saskatchewan and Ontario.
  • The court upheld the law under the Peace, Order and Good Government powers. Specifically the ruling says that “the need for a collective approach to a matter of national concern, and the risk of non-participation by one or more provinces, permits Canada to adopt minimum national standards to reduce GHG emissions.

Other notable points from today’s ruling:

  • “Both nationally and globally, the economic and human costs of climate change are considerable. Canada’s Minister of Finance has estimated that climate change will cost Canada’s economy $5 billion per year by 2020, and up to $43 billion per year by 2050 if no action is taken to mitigate its effects. The World Health Organization has estimated that climate change is currently causing the deaths of 150,000 people worldwide each year. Rising sea levels threaten the safety and lives of tens of millions of people in vulnerable regions.”
  • “Moreover, as a practical matter and indeed as a legislative matter, there is nothing these [low emitting] provinces and territories can do to address the emission of GHGs by their geographic neighbours and constitutional partners. Without a collective national response, all they can do is prepare for the worst.”
  • “Of course, the problem of climate change caused by GHG emissions is not unique to these provinces and territories. The entire country experiences the effects of climate change and every province and territory is affected by the failure.”

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:

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