ENvironnement JEUnesse, an environmental nonprofit, has applied in the Superior Court of Québec to bring a climate change-related class action against the Canadian government on behalf of Québec citizens aged 35 and under. ENvironnement JEUnesse reports that it has asked the Court, inter alia, to declare that the Government of Canada has failed in its obligations to protect the fundamental rights of young people under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Québec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The organization alleges that the government violated plaintiffs’ rights by setting a greenhouse gas reduction target insufficient to avoid dangerous climate change impacts and by lacking an adequate plan to reach its greenhouse gas emission target.
More specifically, plaintiffs allege that 1) the “Canadian government's adoption of GHG emission targets that it knows are harmful to human life and health violates the right of class members to life, inviolability and security protected by section 7 of the Canadian Charter and section 1 of the Québec Charter,” and 2) “by adopting inadequate targets and failing to put in place the necessary measures to achieve these targets, the government is violating the class members' right to live in a healthful environment in which biodiversity is preserved, protected by the Québec Charter.”
The class action seeks a declaratory judgment and punitive damages. They have also asked the court to order a cessation of interference with plaintiffs’ rights.
On July 11, 2019, the court dismissed the motion for authorization to institute a class action. According to information available from the plaintiff organization and media outlets, the judge found insufficient justification for the age limits of the class. A lawyer for the firm representing the plaintiff organization reports that the judge made determinations in favor of the plaintiffs on other critical issues. These include recognition of the impact of climate change on human rights as a justiciable issue and the applicability of the Canadian Charters and Quebec rights and freedoms to government actions in this area. Confirmation and further analysis will be provided upon review of a translation of the decision. Environment JEUnesse reports that they plan to appeal the decision.