Climate Change in Canadian Courts

The National Union endorses Friends of the Earth and Sierra Legal's court challenge of the Conservative government's inaction on climate change. With the real possibility of not meeting Kyoto targets, Canadians risk failure on the international stage and meeting our environmental responsibilities.

Ottawa (18 July 2007) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) endorses Friends of the Earth's (FOE Canada) bold move in the climate change battle. In a landmark lawsuit against the Government of Canada, FOE hopes to force the Harper Conservative government to take serious action on Climate Change.

Friends of the Earth Canada is part of an international network of NGOs using research and education to create a environmentally healthy and just world. In a press release, FOE Canada's Chief Executive Officer, Beatrice Olivastri says, “Because climate change is the most urgent crisis ever facing the planet, Friends of the Earth is resorting to the courts to require the federal government to respect its Kyoto promises.”

Sierra Legal, a prominent environmental law organization who has partnered with FOE, filed the suit at the end of May, 2007. The application for a judicial review alleges that the governments failure to regulate greenhouse gases will likely violate their Kyoto commitments and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to which Canada is a party. Furthermore, to violate international law is to contravene the Canadian Environmental Protection Act , and it is on this point that the judicial review will focus.

The Sierra Legal lawyer Robert Wright emphasizes, “Our government shouldn't have to be asked to put on a credible and lawful climate change cap.” In spite of this, Harper and Baird's inaction has gone on too long. Legal action has become an important avenue to force government to implement a plan of significant greenhouse gas reductions.

The lawsuit does not ask for reparations, but only demands action to meet the Kyoto targets. Where the current federal plan calls for a 20% reduction of GHGs by 2020 – it sets this target from 2006 levels. In contrast the Kyoto Protocol's target is 6% reduction by the end of 2012, but these are targets below 1990 levels. Because of the difference in the baseline year, Canada will exceed the Kyoto targets by 39%.

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