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Judge Dismisses Youth Climate Lawsuit Over Ontario’s Greenhouse Gas Targets

The Ontario Superior Court has dismissed a constitutional challenge from seven youth activists who argued the province is discriminating against young people by setting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets dangerously low, putting their futures at risk.

While Justice Marie-Andrée Vermette called the youths remarkable and was sympathetic to concerns about their future in light of scientific evidence on the impacts of climate change, she did not find Ontario’s targets breached their Charter rights.

Vermette issued a decision last week that says the young activists made a compelling case that the existential threat of climate change imposes on their rights to life and security, but she lay blame with climate change itself rather than provincial policy.

She did however accept the extensive expert evidence on the impacts of climate change and found Ontario’s inaction to further reduce greenhouse gases is contributing to global warming and could increase future hardship the youths may face.

The lawsuit, backed by Ecojustice environmental lawyers, dates back to 2018 when the newly elected Progressive Conservative government repealed a law that had set a target of reducing emissions 37 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.

The Tories replaced that target with one to reduce emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which the government argued in court was to balance a “healthy economy with a healthy environment.”

Ecojustice said in a statement that the decision offered optimism as it established Ontario’s target falls well short of the scientific consensus of what’s necessary to confront climate change.

The environmental law charity says the seven youth activists will appeal the decision.

Representatives for Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source : Global News