Gen Squeeze jumps into federal carbon price showdown
We'll argue the federal government not only has the right to price pollution, they have a responsibility to do so, to avoid discriminating against younger Canadians.

Gen Squeeze exists to help young people thrive, now and in the future.  

That’s why we’re working to restore housing affordability, make it more affordable to start and raise a family, pay off student debt, save for retirement, and ensure we’re leaving at least as much as we inherited.

On that last point, there’s no greater risk than climate change. Without decisive action, we’ll be handing irreversible losses, massive liabilities, and debts to today’s young people, and to future generations. Not. Super. Fair. 😔🌎

One of the most important solutions is putting a price on pollution, but the governments of Ontario and Saskatchewan are fighting against that idea in court.

So, we’ve hired our own lawyers to launch an intervention in favour of pricing pollution, and are teaming up with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children, the Saskatchewan Public Health Association, the Public Health Association of BC, and the Youth Climate Lab. 💪 👪

There’s no time to waste  

We’re not gonna lie, it’d be pretty awesome if we could feel comfortable focussing all our time and energy on the massive, complex issues of housing affordability, family affordability, etc. There’s
a lot of work left to do there.

But we hear the world’s climate scientists loud and clear: this is an emergency, and there's no time to waste. 🚨 [1, 2, 3]

As a voice for young Canadians, we’re going to do our part. 😎

This court intervention is the start of a longer-term Gen Squeeze campaign in favour of pricing pollution.

Pricing pollution: a Nobel prize-winning idea

We need to take a wide variety of action to slow down and ultimately stop climate change.

But one of the simplest and most effective solutions is pretty common-sense: make it more expensive to pollute.

Economics 101, really. But also, a Nobel prize-winning idea. 🏆

Just a few weeks ago, Dr. William D. Nordhaus of Yale University won a share of the 2018 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for (among other things) making the case that:

“The most efficient remedy for the problems caused by greenhouse gas emissions would be a global scheme of carbon taxes that are uniformly imposed on all countries.”

The International Panel on Climate Change agrees.

So, what can we do to act on that recommendation in Canada? Get going with our own carbon pricing. [4]

Pricing pollution to protect our health

Our research
coordinated by Dr. Paul Kershaw in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health reveals that younger Canadians are faced with a 360-degree squeeze that leads to worse population health outcomes, day-to-day stress and weaker economic prospects.

We’re pushing to restore housing affordability, to implement a New Deal for Families, and other actions not only to make life easier, but to make life healthier for whole generations of Canadians.

The Lancet, one of the most prestigious health journals on the planet, identifies climate change as the greatest threat to human health, and recognizes that reducing climate change is the greatest opportunity to protect human health. [5]

We agree. Climate change is a critical threat to the health and well-being of Canadians now and into the future. Sadly, the economic, health, and environmental costs of climate change will fall most heavily on younger adults, the children they raise, and future generations. So we’re stepping up, because that’s not fair.

Wait. How am I better off if I’m paying more for gas?

Gen Squeeze is all about easing your day-to-day cost of living, so it may surprise some that we’re advocating for higher prices on things like gas or heating oil that are part of daily life.

Here’s how carbon taxes or other pricing schemes jive with our mission to ease the squeeze:

  • We’re pushing for governments to use carbon tax revenue to make life more affordable elsewhere, either through direct rebates (like with the federal program), through cuts to income or other taxes (like with B.C.’s carbon tax when it first came out), or through some combination of tax cuts or investments that save you money some other way (e.g. better public transportation).

  • This is all part of our #TaxShift strategy that calls on governments to increase taxes on things we want less of (like unhealthy home prices and pollution), and to decrease taxes on things we want more of (like income).

  • If you want to come out ahead, you can. Carbon pricing creates a financial incentive to live more efficiently. If you go big on efficiency by either changing your behaviour or upgrading your stuff, you can save money over and above what you get back through the first bullet.

  • We need to leave at least as much as we inherited. From day one, Gen Squeeze has been focussed on tackling affordability issues in a way that leaves at least as much as we inherited. If we keep allowing pollution to be free, we’re not only piling on debts and liabilities for ourselves, later, and for future generations, but we will be putting our own health at risk, too. Not cool.

Courtroom showdown

Gen Squeeze has received an initial $2,500 grant from the Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund managed by West Coast Environmental Law to help develop our legal strategy for intervening in both the Saskatchewan and Ontario reference cases challenging the constitutionality of pricing pollution.

To do this, we’ve hired Ratcliff & Company lawyers Emma Hume, and Nathan Hume — a long time supporter and monthly member! Huge thanks to Ratcliff for subsidizing the case by reducing their fees. 💗

Our legal strategy zeroes in on the health impacts of climate change and the way in which governments' failure to reduce carbon pollution discriminates against younger Canadians.

Our partners in the court case


The reference questions put to the courts in Saskatchewan and Ontario are almost identical, each asking whether the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is unconstitutional.

Our answer is YES. Not only is it constitutional, it’s necessary to protect the health and well-being of younger generations, and to prevent discrimination against younger and future generations, because climate change is a fundamental threat to the future of the Canadian way of life, and to the health of our population.

The constitution can and must adapt to the modern reality of climate change, and every level of government must have every available tool at its disposal to combat climate change. A national carbon price is a key component.

Want to support our case?

By becoming a pay-what-you-can Member you'll be helping to cover our legal costs — including lawyers' fees and travel for expert testimony — and you'll also get access to exclusive perks, invitations to special events, Gen Squeeze swag, and more!



[1] Last month the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report detailing the devastating differences between warming the planet by 2°C, or staying at or below 1.5°C, which would require reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent compared to 2010 levels by 2030 — and reaching net zero by 2050.  The message is that every little bit of extra warming matters: 1.5ºC or higher will increase devastating droughts, more damaging storms, famine, disease, economic tolls, refugee crises, and the loss of ecosystems.

[2] The longer we wait to take meaningful action, the more severe the health and economic hardships will be for younger generations. The National Academy of Science published new research this summer showcasing that we have just a small number of years to prevent climate change from escalating out of control with feedback loops that cannot be reversed. PNAS August 14, 2018 115 (33) 8252-8259; published ahead of print August 6, 2018 1810141115

[3] Generation Squeeze research published in the Intergenerational Justice Review shows that younger Canadians must now reduce our ecological footprint at a rate that is three times faster than did Canadians over the past four decades, if we are to meet our climate commitments in the Paris Agreement

[4] If you’d like to dig into the research about carbon pricing in Canada, we recommend the reports being produced by the Ecofiscal Commission.

[5] "Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health." The Lancet 386 (7):1861-1914.

Eric Swanson
Eric is the Executive Director of Generation Squeeze.
'We’ve hired lawyers to jump into the federal carbon price showdown!' via @GenSqueeze #cdnpoli #1Point5toThrive #PollutionShouldntBeFree
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