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Canada facing legal challenge for breaking federal global warming law

Thursday, September 20th 2007 8:27:51am


(Ottawa, Canada, September 20, 2007)  The Government of Canada is once again facing a legal challenge for failing to take action on global warming -- this time for refusing to respect a federal law that requires reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Late yesterday an Application for Judicial Review was filed with the Federal Court seeking to force the Government to comply with the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.  

Filed by eminent Canadian lawyer Chris Paliare and Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal) on behalf of Friends of the Earth Canada, the application alleges that the federal Minister of the Environment is ignoring the rule of law by failing to comply with the Act, passed by Parliament in June 2007.

Under the legislation, the government was legally required to publish, within 60 days, a plan to comply with the country's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The Harper government responded in late August with a plan that the applicants allege plainly fails to meet the requirements of the Act.

"This case is about being accountable to the will of Parliament," says lawyer Chris Paliare.  "By failing to comply with this law, the federal government is neither acting in a manner that is accountable to Parliament nor showing respect for the people of Canada. We are simply asking the court to declare that the government is bound by the Act's requirements and to require the government to comply with it."

"Just as parents have clear obligations under the law to protect their children, the Government of Canada has clear obligations under this federal law to protect families from a grave danger," says Friends of the Earth Canada Chief Executive Officer Beatrice Olivastri.  "Canadians will not tolerate a deadbeat dad approach to climate change."

"Canadians have made it clear they want action on climate change - in fact, our domestic law requires it," says Ecojustice lawyer Albert Koehl. "Most Canadians don't care what the current government can't do - or what the previous government didn't do; they just want the government to act now to reduce emissions and to live up to our obligations."

In May 2007, on behalf of Friends of the Earth, Ecojustice launched a lawsuit against the federal government alleging that it had contravened the Canadian Environmental Protection Act by not meeting its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gases. After the unexpected passage of Pablo Rodriguez's private member's bill into law this summer, however, Friends of the Earth and the Ministers of Environment and Health agreed to stay the litigation pending the outcome of the new act.


For more information, please download the Application at www.ecojustice.ca or contact:

    * Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada: (613) 241-0085 x.26, cell: (613) 724-8690
    * Chris Paliare, LL.B., LL.M., LSM, Lawyer, Paliare Roland (416) 646-4318
    * Albert Koehl, Staff Lawyer, Ecojustice: (416) 533-1231, cell: (416) 573-4258


Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act Lawsuit (filed Sept. 19, 2007)

The Application for Judicial Review

    * The Application for Judicial Review was filed in Federal Court by Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal) and lawyer Chris Paliare on behalf of Friends of the Earth Canada on September 19, 2007.
    * The application seeks a declaration that the Government of Canada is not complying with its legal obligation under Section 5 of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act because the Minister of Environment has failed to prepare a Climate Change Plan that provides a description of measures to be taken to ensure that Canada meets its obligations under Article 3.1 of the Kyoto Protocol.
    * It will also seek a court order (i.e. mandamus order) requiring the Minister to comply with the Act.  

The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act

    * Originally presented as Bill C-288 by Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez, the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act was passed by the Senate and given Royal Assent on June 22, 2007.
    * The purpose of the Act is "to ensure that Canada takes effective and timely action to meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol and help address the problem of global climate change."
    * Section 5 of the Act requires that within 60 days of the Act coming into force, the Minister of Environment is to prepare a Climate Change Plan and release the Plan publicly.
    * The Act sets out a specific list of measures to be described in the Plan to be taken to ensure that Canada meets its obligations under Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Kyoto Protocol.

Canadian Kyoto Chronology

    * 1994: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into force (Now ratified by 190 countries and the European Economic Community).
    * 2005: The Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCC entered into force, committing Canada to allowable emissions of 2,815 Megatonnes of greenhouse gases for the years 2008-2012.
    * May 17, 2006:  Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (Bill C-288) tabled and receives first reading at House of Commons.
    * October 19, 2006:  The proposed Clean Air Act (Bill C-30) introduced in Parliament.
    * December 4, 2006:  Clean Air Act referred to Legislative Committee for amendments.
    * February 15, 2007:  Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (Bill C-288) receives first reading at Senate.
    * March 30, 2007:  Legislative Committee Report on the Clean Air Act released.
    * April 26, 2007:  The Government releases its Regulatory Framework for Air Emissions, "Turning the Corner".
    * May 29, 2007:  On behalf of Friends of the Earth Canada, Ecojustice launches lawsuit in Federal Court against the Government of Canada for abandoning its international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.  The lawsuit alleged that the federal government was violating Section. 166 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
    * June 22, 2007: The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act was passed by the Senate and given Royal Assent.
    * August 9, 2007:  In anticipation of the Government's new Climate Change Plan, FOE and Ministers of Environment and Health are granted a stay by the Federal Court of their May 2007 lawsuit.
    * August 21, 2007:  The Minister of Environment releases his Climate Change Plan. The Plan fails to comply with the requirements of the KPIA.
    * September 14, 2007.  The Governor General, at the request of the Prime Minister prorogues parliament thereby eliminating any chance of Bill C-30, the Amended Clean Air Act, returning for approval by Parliament.
    * September 20 2007:  On behalf of FOE, Ecojustice and lawyer Chris Paliare launch a lawsuit in Federal Court against the Government of Canada for failing to comply with the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.

The groups

    * Friends of the Earth Canada is a voice for the environment, working nationally and internationally to inspire the renewal of communities and the Earth through research, education and advocacy.  It is the Canadian member of the 70 country strong Friends of the Earth International (www.foecanada.org).
    * Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal) is Canada's largest non-profit environmental law organization, dedicated to defending the right of Canadians to a healthy environment (www.ecojustice.ca).
    * Paliare Roland is a litigation law firm located in downtown Toronto, practicing in all areas of administrative, corporate, civil, commercial, employment, labour and appellate advocacy law.

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