OTTAWA— In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that the federal government has the constitutional authority to put a price on carbon and create the minimum standards necessary to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The majority emphasized the disproportionate and irreversible impacts of climate change on the Arctic, the coastlines, and Indigenous peoples.
“This is a win for the whole country, but also for the Arctic and our oceans, which are feeling the immediate impacts of the climate crisis,” said Brent Dancey, Oceans North’s director of marine climate action.
The Arctic and its peoples are shouldering the most adverse consequences of climate change while being least responsible—and benefiting the least—for activities that generate GHG emissions. By the end of the century, the Arctic could face a staggering 12-degree increase in temperature due to climate change.
And greenhouse gas emissions are not just going into our atmosphere. More than 30 per cent of GHG emissions are absorbed directly into the oceans, resulting in adverse impacts like acidification. The oceans also absorb more than 90 per cent of the heat from global warming.
“You can’t separate pollution in the air from pollution in the water. We need a healthy ocean to help regulate our climate, and the oxygen it produces provides every other breath we take,” Dancey said.
There is broad consensus among international expert bodies that a price on carbon is critical to reduce GHG emissions and spur economic growth and innovation. Today’s decision allows Canada to move forward with the transition to a low-carbon economy and invest in the innovative technologies required to cut emissions in challenging sectors such as transportation and marine shipping.
Oceans North intervened in the case in favour of the federal government. We continue to believe that climate change is a matter of national concern, and it needs a federal response. “It’s time to put aside partisan politics and work together as a country to harness the economic and environmental benefits of acting on climate change before it’s too late,” said Dancey.
For more information, please contact: