The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Supriya Tandan

Climate law

The kids aren’t alright

By Supriya Tandan January 2, 2019 2 January 2019

The kids aren’t alright

 

Millennials are blamed for all sorts of contemporary society ills, but there is at least one societal issue for which they can pin the blame on their elders: climate change. A group of youth based in Quebec are applying to bring a class action suit against the federal government at the Superior Court of Québec. The youth are claiming that the failures of successive federal governments to appropriately tackle climate change is resulting in charter rights violations.

Could the effort succeed?

The Quebec lawsuit follows the precedent of other citizen-led lawsuits and, in particular, a youth-led lawsuit that has been launched in the United States. In that one, American children are arguing that the under-regulation of greenhouse gases and subsidies made to the oil and gas industry are exacerbating climate change and thereby violating the youth’s constitutional rights, as delineated by the public trust doctrine.

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Climate law

Ontario’s climate change plan: What now?

By Supriya Tandan October 1, 2018 1 October 2018

Ontario’s climate change plan: What now?

It’s been a difficult year for Ontario residents: forest fires in the North, flooding in the Southwest and recent tornado in the Nation’s capital are the most visible displays of a climate playing havoc with Ontario residents. These events are precisely what climate scientists have been telling us to expect with a warming earth, even if a causal link between a particular weather event and climate change phenomena can never be made.

Previous Liberal governments tried to tackle climate change by introducing legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (The Cap-and Trade Act) and motivate the use, market and adoption of renewable energies (The Green Energy Act).

Then came a new Progressive Conservative government. One of Premier Doug Ford’s first items of business was to repeal his predecessor’s cap-and-trade legislative framework. His government followed that up with plans to repeal of the Green Energy Act, which critics charge was an ill-conceived attempt to grow a renewable energy industrial sector in Ontario. Its repeal also appears to be motivated by the desire for more municipal autonomy, especially in rural communities, where renewable energy projects are often located.

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Environment law

Could a new NAFTA really promote better enforcement of environmental laws?

By Supriya Tandan September 19, 2018 19 September 2018

Could a new NAFTA really promote better enforcement of environmental laws?

 

As NAFTA negotiations have moved from deadline to deadline, the Canadian government has so far maintained its position that wants to include environment and climate provisions in an updated trade deal.

The question is they could ever be meaningfully enforced.

Both Canada and the U.S. agree that provisions on the environment should be addressed in the main body of the new trade deal, instead of in a side accord as they currently are. As things stand today, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), created under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), handles environmental issues raised under NAFTA. It receives complaints from the public where they suspect a lack of environmental law enforcement.

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Climate law

Is a carbon tax by any other name still constitutionally valid?

By Supriya Tandan August 27, 2018 27 August 2018

Is a carbon tax by any other name still constitutionally valid?

 

Carbon pricing may be the environmental economist’s preferred tool to change behaviour to achieve meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions. But it remains a difficult sell, politically.

Just a decade ago prominent politicians, academics and a former Premier were forecasting a looming battle between Alberta and the federal government over the prospect of federal greenhouse gas regulations. As it turns out, the provinces challenging the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, Canada’s legislative mechanism for pricing carbon, are Saskatchewan and Ontario. The most prominent, and politically controversial, aspect of the Act is the imposition of a $10/tonne charge on greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 (increasing to $50/tonne by 2022). This backstop would only be imposed on those provinces that do not establish equivalently stringent measures to reduce emissions.

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Environmental law

How $1 billion can help decide what is good for Canada’s environment

By Supriya Tandan February 28, 2018 28 February 2018

How $1 billion can help decide what is good for Canada’s environment

 

Ministers Bill Morneau and Catherine McKenna are both attempting to address issues of equality and, yesterday, Budget 2018 outlined how a $1 billion dollar investment will be used to support the Bill C-69, which would replace the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

With Bill C-69, McKenna is hoping to change the way that Canadians weigh the merits of major projects against the impacts on, amongst other things, our environment, health and relations with Indigenous Peoples. Proponents, like the Pembina Institute have applauded the efforts while critics charge that the new Impact Assessment Act has a back-to-the-future feel. The new Act, they say, largely restores requirements that were in place before the Harper government, leaving the more ambitious goals up to political will.

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