VANCOUVER – The 15 Canadian youth plaintiffs of the La Rose v. Her Majesty the Queen climate lawsuit filed their written argument in Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal today.

They are seeking to hold their federal government accountable for continuing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that infringe their fundamental Charter rights to life, liberty, security of the person and equality.

The plaintiffs are appealing an October 2020 Motions Judge decision that struck their claims. The plaintiffs argue that the decision serves to insulate government action that causes climate change from effective judicial scrutiny, meaning that both the Court and Constitution have no role to play in addressing government conduct that government itself acknowledges is causing severe harm to children and youth across Canada.

The Motions Judge’s ruling also contradicts a recent decision from Ontario which found that young people have a right to hold their provincial government accountable for allowing high levels of GHG emissions in violation of their Charter rights.

The La Rose plaintiffs are asking the Court to declare they have Charter rights that the government is breaching by continuing high levels of GHG emissions, which are inconsistent with what scientists say is required to ensure a safe and stable climate system. They are also asking the Court to order Canada to develop a comprehensive, science-based plan to reduce its emissions.

The appeal will be scheduled for oral argument later this year.

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Read the May 3 appeal filing (“Memorandum of Fact and Law of the Appellants”)

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The La Rose v. Her Majesty the Queen lawsuit argues these youth are already being harmed by climate change, and the federal government is violating their rights to life, liberty and security of the person under section 7 of the charter and failing to protect essential public trust resources. The youth also allege that their government’s conduct violates their right to equality under section 15 of the charter, since youth are disproportionately affected by the effects of the climate emergency.

Our Children’s Trust is a nonprofit public interest law firm that provides strategic, campaign-based legal services to youth from diverse backgrounds to secure their legal rights to a safe climate. We work to protect the Earth’s climate system for present and future generations by representing young people in global legal efforts to secure their binding and enforceable legal rights to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate, based on the best available science. We support our youth clients and amplify their voices before the third branch of government in a highly strategic legal campaign that includes targeted media, education, and public engagement work to support the youths’ legal actions. Our legal work – guided by constitutional, public trust, human rights laws and the laws of nature – aims to ensure systemic and science-based climate recovery planning and remedies at federal, state, and global levels.

The David Suzuki Foundation is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, collaborating with all people in Canada, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. The Foundation operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.