A second provincial court has ruled in favour of Canada's national policy on pricing carbon pollution, and a better future for younger generations.
Just before Canada Day, the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed the federal government's authority to respond to the global climate emergency, including by putting a price on carbon pollution.
The decision was a great way to kick off the long weekend for Gen Squeeze. (Read our press release about it.) When the Ontario and Saskatchewan governments went to court last year to fight a national carbon price, we formed an Intergenerational Climate Coalition and hired lawyers to push back.
And we won!
Why is Gen Squeeze working on climate?
Our work shows that addressing climate change goes hand-in-hand with affordability.
Without decisive action, climate change will result in massive losses, liabilities and debts for today’s young people and future generations.
Alternatively, a smart carbon price can fight the climate emergency while delivering dollars back to us. This could be through direct rebates (like with the federal program), cuts to income or other taxes (like with B.C.’s carbon tax when it first came out), or some combination of tax cuts or investments that save you money some other way (e.g. better public transportation).
Things is, we've heard from Gen Squeeze supporters that climate change is a form of intergenerational debt that goes beyond the state of our bank accounts.
Your concerns about how climate change will affect all aspects of your future are the biggest reason Gen Squeeze is involved in this fight.
What the courts ruled
In May, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal was the first to rule that the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is constitutional. The ruling cemented the urgency of tackling climate change by stating, "Climate change has emerged as a major threat, not just to Canada, but to the planet itself.”
Judges in Ontario agreed, saying regulations designed to lower GHG emissions are of national concern and part of Canada's international obligations.
In its ruling, the Ontario court referred specifically to evidence Gen Squeeze and partners submitted about the future costs of climate change to younger Canadians. (An analysis prepared for the federal government in 2011 shows climate change could cost Canada and those who live here $43 billion per year by 2050 if the right kinds of actions aren't taken.)
Despite heavy political rhetoric around the carbon tax, the Ontario court went on to say that a national carbon pricing system isn’t actually a tax but a regulatory charge, whereby the money collected from emitters will go back to provinces, taxpayers and institutions to reward them for participating in a program that benefits the entire country.
(Or as the Globe and Mail writes, the real carbon tax is the money provinces are spending on lawyers to fight it.)
For Gen Squeeze, the Ontario court ruling is another affirmation that smart policies can support sustainability AND affordability for younger (and all) Canadians.
The Saskatchewan government is fighting their provincial court's ruling in a case set to be heard by the Supreme Court in December. The Ontario government has vowed to do the same.
If the Supreme Court case goes ahead as planned, Gen Squeeze and our lawyers aim to be there. But we need your help. Close to 50 Gen Squeeze supporters donated more than $5,000 to help cover our initial legal costs. Will you help us raise additional funds to take this case to the top? Please consider donating today.
Of course, we want to see both provincial court rulings upheld.
But Gen Squeeze jumped into these court cases not just to defend the federal government’s constitutional authority to tackle climate change with tools like a national carbon price.
We believe governments have a constitutional obligation to act in all the ways needed to limit global warming, and that failing to do this amounts to clear-cut discrimination against younger generations. This is an argument we also hope to see recognized in a future court ruling.
We know climate action is important to Gen Squeeze supporters, even as some of you are unsure what role Gen Squeeze should play in advocating for it.
We think both of these court victories are key examples of how our organization can make an impact while also continuing the good fight for affordability. So thank you to everyone who has supported this work!
In particular, a big thanks...
- To the 48 Gen Squeeze supporters and monthly members who gave more than $5,000 to help cover our legal costs!
- To our partners in the Intergenerational Climate Coalition: Saskatchewan Public Health Association, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Youth Climate Lab, Public Health Association of BC, and the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children
- To the EDRF Legal Aid Fund for anchoring this work with core financial support
- To the staff at West Coast Environmental Law for their advice and encouragement
- To our amazing lawyers Nathan Hume and Emma Hume at Ratcliff & Company for providing discounted and pro bono work and for leading the charge!