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Young Ontarians tell the Ontario Court of Appeal that the Ford government's plan to fight climate change is not ambitious enough.

Climate: 7 young people accuse Ontario of violating their rights

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The seven young complainants are supported in their case by the Toronto law firm Stockwoods LLP and those of the Ecojustice group.

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Seven Ontarians tell Ontario Court of Appeal that Ford government's environmental policies are unconstitutional and threaten their rights to health, safety and equality . After an initial failure, the plaintiffs, aged 16 to 28, tried to convince three judges that the province's green plan is not ambitious enough to preserve the future of future generations.

A trial judge rejected the plaintiffs' constitutional appeal last April, but she recognized that the green plan of the province fell far short of its objectives.

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She nevertheless affirmed that there was no scientific consensus on the measures that would be necessary to combat climate change , thus proving the government right.

Plaintiffs' defense alleges before Court of Appeal that Ontario's handling of climate crisis is so inadequate that it violates their rights guaranteed by the Charter.

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She discusses article 7 on the right to life and security of the person and section 15 on the right to equality, which provides Canadians with protection against discrimination based on age.

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Alex Neufeldt, who owns a small dress rental business in Ottawa, is participating in the constitutional appeal against the Ford government.

The first two imply, according to her, that the physical and psychological health of younger generations cannot be affected by climate change.

The right to equality implies that global warming will have a disproportionate impact on young people generations compared to their elders, hence the gap in inequalities between previous and future generations.

What unites all these young people is that they have come to the conclusion, like so many others in the world, that the action of the government in the face of global warming is cruelly missing its target, says their lawyer, Nader Hasan.

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The lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Nader Hasan, says they come from different parts of the province and from diverse backgrounds .

Although sympathetic to their cause, the lower court had ruled that the province's green plan did not&#x27 ;was not responsible for the fact that younger generations are more affected by climate change than others.

Me Hasan adds, however, that global warming poses the greatest threat to humanity and that the health or safety of some Ontarians is already suffering.

There is no doubt that the temperature will continue to rise and that the government has an obligation to limit greenhouse gas emissions more seriously, underlines Me Hasan.

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Lawyer Nader Hasan cites in his examples forest fires in the province, such as in Northern Ontario, during the summer of 2023.

The Progressive Conservatives' policy is to reduce the province's CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

Such a target will not prevent the irreversible damage of global warming, if it is not significantly increased, continues the lawyer.

Me Hasan concludes that governments should not, in any case, be at the above the law when it comes to confronting one of the most urgent challenges humanity has ever faced.

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In 2018, the Ford government replaced the carbon market of the previous Liberal government with a new policy to fight climate change which is not ambitious enough for the complainants' tastes.

He therefore asks the Court of Appeal to suspend the current law, since it would be unconstitutional, and to order the government to release a new science-based green plan with a target reduction of at least 45% of the province's emissions.

The province's lawyer, Zachary Green, argues that global warming cannot be arbitrated by the courts.

There is no constitutional obligation to take positive steps to correct the harms of climate change, he explains.

Only the federal government can decide, according to him, whether the provincial targets are sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

There is no legal standard for calculating a science-based emissions level to ensure a sustainable future for younger generations or to calculate the fair share of the province's global emissions in terms of polluting emissions, he explains.

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The Prime Minister of Ontario's Doug Ford visits a flooded area in Eastern Ontario in April 2019.

L&# x27;lawyer points out that Ontario produces only 22% of national GHG emissions, while the province has 40% of the country's population.

How should we then set Ontario's fair contribution?, he asks in arguing that Ontario does not have the same economic activity nor the same energy sources as other provinces.

Me Green reminds us that global warming is a complex global problem, which cannot be solved within the borders of Ontario.< /p>

He emphasizes that the Charter also grants no right to the seven complainants to demand targets specific measures to reduce greenhouse gases.

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Eleven organizations have obtained intervener status in this cause, such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace Canada and the Assembly of First Nations.

In this sense, according to him, we cannot quantify the degree of damage caused by greenhouse gases coming from within the province to Ontarians or even the quantity of damages that would be avoided in Ontario if the province set stricter standards for GHG reduction.

He emphasizes that the adverse effects of climate change are not an issue of violation of the plaintiffs' rights, because the impacts of global warming will be felt by all age groups in Ontario's population.

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The three judges of the Ontario Court of Appeal have reserved the case until an undetermined date.

Mr. Green further argues that Ontario's Green Plan does not in fact impose any legal obligations on anyone and that it in fact only presents reasonable targets to achieve, according to him.

Judge Sally Gomery interrupted him on this subject by qualifying his cynical position. You are telling us that the province established targets just for the sake of creating reduction objectives?, she asks.

The gas reduction objectives have no legal force, replies Me Green.

These targets are beneficial in Ontario's green plan, it remains to be seen whether they meet the expectations of the plaintiffs, he concludes.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116