Is A Healthy Environment A Fundamental Right Of Citizens

On November 26, 2018 ENvironnement JEUnesse ("ENJEU[1]") filed an application for authorization against the Government of Canada to bring a class action on behalf of all Quebec residents aged 35 and under claiming a right to a clean and healthy environment. The claim alleged that the Canadian government is infringing on a generation's fundamental rights due to its failure to implement appropriate greenhouse gas reduction targets to avoid the impacts of climate change. This infringement by the Government of Canada is claimed to have failed to protect the fundamental rights of Quebec youth under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) and Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (Quebec Charter).

On June 6, 2019 ENJEU presented its arguments seeking authorization of the class action to the Superior Court of Quebec.

The claim alleged that the Government of Canada acknowledged that climate change poses significant risks to human health, lives and livelihoods of individuals and acknowledges that any increase in temperature must be limited to less than 2°C. The Government of Canada has made four commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a series of the following international agreements: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 1992; Kyoto Protocol, 1997; UNFCCC Copenhagen, 2009; and Paris Agreement, 2015.

ENJEU alleged that the Government of Canada either failed to meet its commitments, withdrew from its commitments (e.g. Kyoto Protocol), or is currently not on track to meet its international commitments. Further, ENJEU claimed that the Paris Agreement target is inadequate on its face and, even if implemented, will continue to contribute greenhouse gases beyond levels already identified by the Government of Canada to result in harm.

The ENJEU claim alleged that the Government of Canada adopted inadequate greenhouse gas emission targets and violated the right of class members to life, liberty and security of the person protected by section 7 of the Charter and the right to equality for Quebec's youth pursuant to section 15(1) of the Charter. One of the remedies sought by ENJEU is an order requiring the implementation of remedial measures to mitigate the effects of climate change.

On July 12, 2019 Justice Gary D.D. Morrison of the Superior Court of Quebec released his decision refusing to grant ENvironnement JEUnesse's authorization to institute its class action against the Government of...

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