May 29, 2007
Friends of the Earth Canada has launched a landmark lawsuit against the Government of Canada for abandoning its international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Filed in Federal Court in Ottawa by Canada ’s foremost environmental law organisation, Sierra Legal, the lawsuit alleges that the federal government is violating Canadian law by failing to meet its binding international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada is second only to Austria, worldwide, in the staggering size of its failure to meet its Kyoto target, with its greenhouse gas emissions more than 34% above its 6% reduction target. Last month, the Canadian government set greenhouse reduction targets of 20% below 2006 levels by 2020, which would leave Canada about 39% above the Kyoto target for 2008-2012.
In October 2006, an international legal opinion was presented to the Canadian government indicating that Canada had failed to show “demonstrable progress” in achieving its Kyoto target, as required by 2005. This failure, along with others, activated a legal duty on the Environment Minister under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to act to prevent air pollution that violates an international agreement binding on Canada . The lawsuit is an application for judicial review, seeking enforcement of this duty.
“Because climate change is the most urgent crisis ever facing the planet, Friends of the Earth is resorting to the courts to require the federal government to respect its Kyoto promises," said Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive Officer of Friends of the Earth Canada, "We must see an end to important programmes being dismantled, terminated and slashed - all part of the pattern of Kyoto denial by the federal government.”
Sierra Legal lawyer Robert Wright thinks that the Canadian government is letting its voters down.
“Canadians expect the Government of Canada to live up to its domestic and international commitments to combat global warming, and our environmental laws require it to do so," he said. "Our government shouldn't have to be asked to put on a credible and lawful climate change cap.”
The initiative is supported by the Climate Justice Programme. “ Canada has become the first country to be sued for breaching the Kyoto Protocol. This is possible because Canada is so far off her Kyoto target that her own legal rules designed to prevent pollution in violation of international law kick in, " said Peter Roderick, co-Director of the Climate Justice Poregramme. "Canada ’s Kyoto performance has been so abysmal that enforcement of her own legal rules is necessary to help stop her traditional reputation as a good international citizen from slipping further.”
Download the history of the case http://www.foecanada.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=278&Itemid=113 the Application www.sierralegal.org
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 69 country strong Friends of the Earth International (www.foecanada.org).
Sierra Legal is Canada ’s largest non-profit environmental law organization, dedicated to enforcing and strengthening the laws that safeguard our environment, wildlife and public health (www.www.sierralegal.org)./
The Climate Justice Programme is an international collaboration of lawyers and campaigners encouraging enforcement of the law to combat climate change, hosted by Friends of the Earth International (www.climatelaw.org).