Quebec’s Youth Seek Enviro-Relief From Court

By Ben Hamill - June 27 2019

Quebec’s Youth Seek Enviro-Relief From Court

Global courts are being approached more often now than ever before to rule on issues related to climate change, global warming and a variety of other environmental issues. The world-wide “climate litigation” movement is being driven by environmentalists trying to force much-needed changes in policies, as well as claims for damages in an effort to raise the funds that are necessary to not only undo the damage already caused but to also fund future preventative measures. A group of Quebec-based young environmental activists is the latest to have added its collective voice to the cause. The group has actioned a class action lawsuit against Canada’s federal government and on behalf of all of the young people of Quebec, saying that young people’s right to a future healthy environment is being compromised by the current Canadian government.

One of the members of the group, architecture student Zy St.-Pierre-Bourdelais, says that the country’s justice system is supposed to be based on facts and laws and Science; and not on politics. He pointed out that climate change too, is based on Science (again: unlike politics). The 20-year old added that it had been a daunting affair to approach a court of law as he had never before even been to court.

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Climate Litigation On The Rise

According to 29-year old Catherine Guathier, who is the Executive Director of non-profit organisation ENvironnement JEUnesse, the action is long overdue. Gauthier is of the opinion that had more been done when she herself was but a child, the problem would have been a lot closer to being solved by now, and that perhaps it would have been solved to such an extent that legal litigation would not have been necessary in an attempt to preserve the environment in favour of future generations.

A database compiled by New York’s Columbia Law School indicates that currently there are at least 1,000 climate-change related lawsuits of a similar nature to the one brought by the Quebec group, in process in courts all around the world. What had prompted the global litigation action is in all likelihood a groundbreaking case that took place in the Netherlands back in 2015. The judicial decision was made that the government was in actual fact neglecting its duties to protect its citizens by failing to institute the necessary changes in order to better protect earth’s environment. The end-result was a mandatory court-sanctioned order that forced the Netherlands government to sign into force policies that ultimately led to a 25% reduction in the emission of green house gasses in the country.

Justice Will Prevail

According to Greenpeace Canada’s Keith Steward, a senior energy analyst, the courts are often the only means to a practical remedy when a controversial issue needs to be addressed. Steward points out that the courts are quite effortlessly able to go where local politicians are too afraid to for fear of the backlash so often coming from the ranks of the fossil fuel energy industry, to name but a single example.

Lawsuits against fossil fuel companies are on the rise, especially in developed cities such as New York and San Francisco. Some of the oil and gas companies being summoned to the judicial party are Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum (BP) and Chevron.

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