Quebec's youth are suing the Government of Canada for inaction on climate change
On November 26 2018, ENvironnement JEUnesse, represented pro bono by the firm Trudel Johnston & Lespérance, applied to bring a class action against the Canadian government before the Superior Court of Québec on behalf of Quebeckers aged 35 and under.
ENvironnement JEUnesse alleges that the Canadian government is infringing on a generation’s fundamental rights because its greenhouse gas reduction target is not ambitious enough to avoid dangerous climate change and because it does not even have a plan that would allow it to reach this already inadequate target.
If the government continues in this direction, people under 35 will suffer the severe consequences of climate change, depriving them of their right their right to life and security of the person, to their right to equality, and to their right to an environment in which biodiversity is preserved.
The first step in judicial proceedings that may take several years
To obtain leave from the Court to bring these judicial proceedings, ENvironnement JEUnesse must first demonstrate to the Superior Court of Québec that it has an arguable case, this means that at first glance, the alleged facts, if they are proven in a trial on merits, appear to justify the conclusions sought, i.e. that the insufficient target and actions to combat climate change violate several fundamental rights.
A global movement
Several similar proceedings have been started around the world, notably in the Netherlands, where the government was forced to adopt a concrete plan to reach its climate target. The Dutch government is legally bound to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Similar legal actions are ongoing in the United States, Belgium, Norway, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Colombia and the United Kingdom.
All young people aged 35 and under who reside in Quebec are part of the class action. In 2030, a 10-year-old will only have just reached adulthood.
Young people will suffer the most from the impacts of climate change. Young people will suffer from longer and intense heat waves, extreme weather, floods, waves of climate refugees. Young people will have to pay for adaptation to the consequences. Today, young people are speaking out and asking the court to demand that the government respect their rights. It must act now to reduce the burden that their generation will have to bear.
Catherine Gauthier, 29 years old
Executive Director at ENvironnement JEUnesse
Alix Ruhlmann, 23 years old
Zy St-Pierre-Bourdelais, 19 years old
Bernadette Veilleux-Trinh, 17 years old
David Morin, 20 years old
Student and Vice-President at ENvironnement JEUnesse
We also stand in solidarity with other citizens' initiatives to demand stronger climate action, right now. That's why we invite you to read and sign the Pact for the Transition, to support your group's climate declaration or to create your own, and to endorse the Déclaration d'urgence climatique (la DUC).