Environmental groups challenge federal government on failure to act on climate law
October 15, 2009
TORONTO — Environmental groups are in court today challenging Canada’s federal government for its violation of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (KPIA).
Friends of the Earth, represented by Ecojustice and Paliare Roland Barristers are arguing before the Federal Court of Appeal that Canada’s Minister of Environment and the Governor in Council are in violation of the Canadian law that requires Canada to take strong action to meet binding international commitments to fight climate change.
“It’s an embarrassment for all Canadians that our government has said it won’t even try to honour its legally binding commitments nor has it taken the honourable step to negotiate compliance penalties,” says Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive Officer for Friends of the Earth. “Canada is acting like a bad boy on the world stage by ignoring its domestic law requiring climate action.”
The lawsuit asks the court for a declaration that the Minister of the Environment and the Governor in Council are breaking the law by failing to meet the legal requirements of the KPIA including enactment of legally binding regulations to combat climate change. The Court previously ruled that the legislation itself is not justiciable — meaning it is not an issue the Courts can resolve. The groups are asking that the Court of Appeal set aside this previous ruling.
“The case targets the fundamental question of whether the government is above the law,” said Ecojustice lawyer Hugh Wilkins. “The law states that Canada must take strong actions to address climate change, but the government has explicitly failed to do so.”
“If the government is allowed to continue its blatant disregard of this legislation, it could make the same claim for various other laws that it does not want to obey,” said eminent Canadian lawyer Chris Paliare. “This isn’t acceptable.”
The appeal will be heard at the Federal Court of Appeal at 9:30 a.m. today at 180 Queen Street West, Toronto. Chris Paliare, Beatrice Olivastri and Hugh Wilkins will be available for comment in front of the court at 9 am.
Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada (613) 724-8690 (cell)
Chris G. Paliare, Paliare Roland Barristers (416) 646-4318
Hugh Wilkins, Ecojustice (416) 368-7533 ext. 34
Albert Koehl, Ecojustice (416) 368-7533 ext. 29 (French and Spanish inquiries)