Ottawa targeted by lawsuit for climate inaction

(Montreal) The Canadian state will finally be judged for climate inaction, the country’s courts have decided, after a complaint filed four years ago by a group of 15 young environmental activists.

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled that a trial should take place to determine whether the actions of Justin Trudeau’s government violated the rights of the young plaintiffs, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to a judgment made public Thursday.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, the burden of consequences will disproportionately affect young Canadians,” wrote the Federal Court of Appeal in its decision, consulted by AFP.

The court adds that “climate change has dramatic and rapid consequences for all Canadians, in particular for Indigenous communities and those in the North.”

In October 2019, 15 young people, aged 10 to 19, filed a complaint against the federal government which, according to them, contributes to global warming by not implementing an ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In October 2020, a Federal Court judge initially rejected their request, a decision overturned by the Federal Court of Appeal on Wednesday.

“It is the least we can do to have the right to a trial to discuss what is an existential threat,” responded to AFP Albert Lalonde, one of the plaintiffs and environmental activist, now aged 21 years old.

The law student considers it “despairing to have had to wait four years” to reach this stage in the procedures.

“This action goes beyond the federal government. This should make all provinces understand that inaction can have legal consequences,” responded in a press release from the David Suzuki Foundation, one of the environmental organizations that supports young people.

Elsewhere in the world, numerous trials have taken place to force governments to act against the climate crisis, notably in Germany, the Netherlands and France.

Canada, which due to its geographical location is warming faster than the rest of the planet, has been confronted in recent years with extreme weather events whose intensity and frequency are increased by global warming.

The country notably experienced a record-breaking forest fire season this year: 18.5 million hectares went up in smoke.

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