Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada breathed a sigh of relief when the Supreme Court upheld the lawfulness of a carbon fee and dividend pricing, which was instated January 2019.
On 25th March 2021, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal government has the right to impose minimum carbon-pricing standards on the provinces.
Three provinces – Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta – challenged the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, claiming that it was an overreach of federal powers into provincial affairs, and threatened to derail the two-year-old version of carbon fee and dividend as a backstop fossil fuel tax where a province did not already have its own.
“The Supreme Court of Canada ruled what we in Canada have advocated for over a decade is constitutional,” said Cathy Orlando, a Canadian, the director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada and also Program Director at Citizens’ Climate International on March 25. “The law can only change as fast as a society. So, the work of every carbon pricing advocate is now affirmed by Canada’s highest court in the land. Today is a good day.”
Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote for the majority of the judges. “Climate change is real. It is caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities, and it poses a grave threat to humanity’s future,” Wagner wrote. He described climate change as “a threat of the highest order to the country, and indeed the world.” The majority noted that global warming causes harm beyond provincial boundaries and that it is a matter of national concern under the “peace, order and good government” clause of the Constitution.
Of importance to global carbon pricing advocates, the ruling included, “A provincial failure to act directly threatens Canada as a whole.” Canada would not be able to push for global action on climate change if provinces were not cooperating in the fight against it, the majority said.
“The world was watching Canada. My colleagues were in a state of suspense with us this past week,” says Orlando. “My colleague in Nigeria, David Michael Terungwa, was the first to send out a congratulatory tweet.”
CCL leaders from around the world have sent their congratulations to this latest win by CCL Canada:
“We’re thrilled with today’s decision. We hope this ruling by Canada’s Supreme Court inspires the U.S. Congress to move forward with effective carbon pricing, too.”
Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby
“The minimum and rising price on carbon is the first pillar we need from the European Green Deal. This decision should help the commission to make bold proposals in that way.”
“Une trajectoire de prix carbone croissant est le premier pilier de la politique que nous souhaitons voir adoptée par le Pacte Vert Européen” dit Sidonie Ruban, Présidente du Lobby Climatique Citoyen en France, “cette décision devrait aider la Commission à faire des propositions ambitieuses en ce sens.”
Sidonie Ruban, President of Citizens’ Climate Lobby France
“Canada’s legal decision reinforces government responsibility to act and adds to the public support for simple and effective climate policy. The fact that the carbon pricing roadmap is so close to the latest science is a welcome signpost from a G7 country before COP26.”
James Collis, Chair of Citizens’ Climate Europe
“We at the Citizens’ Climate Europe regard CCL Canada as our role model, and we draw courage and inspiration from the achievements of our Canadian colleagues. Today marks an important victory that brings a global climate solution one step closer. My heartfelt congratulations.”
Brigitte Van Gerven – CCL Belgium
“Canada’s success in having their innovative carbon pricing scheme confirmed by the Supreme Court is great news for Australia. It inspires us to continue our advocacy for a similar ‘climate dividend’ policy to be adopted here in the runup to COP26. Thank you Canada!”
Rod Mitchell, National Chair of Citizens’ Climate Australia
“Canada’s struggle to adopt carbon pricing is a model to get every country pulling adequately in the same direction. Countries now need to rapidly decarbonize economic activities by businesses and drive investments in clean technologies, while ensuring climate and social justice.”
Galib Hossain, Dhaka Chapter Leader of Citizens’ Climate Bangladesh
“National carbon pricing policies are needed everywhere to make ‘polluters pay’ while delivering a carbon income for the citizenry, and address development aspirations and environmental concerns at the same time.”
Rituraj Phukan, Citizens Climate International, India
“Qu’on soit un pays petit ou gros pollueur, les marchés carbones sont une affaire de tous. La mondialisation des économies fait que les émissions et leurs impacts sont devenus globaux. Tous les pays à l’instar du Canada doivent produire une loi sur la tarification du carbone. Le Canada donne l’exemple en l’intégrant dans sa loi fondamentale. Continuons le combat pour que tous les gouvernements mettent finalement un prix sur le carbone.”
Dadzie Edem Yaovi, journaliste et coordonnateur national du Lobby des citoyens pour le climat (LCC-Togo)
“Carbon pricing has the benefit of being a targeted corrective by which we can avoid prohibiting certain economic activities in their entirety and which will ideally not create other market distortions. Congratulations to Canada.”
Yahya Sowe, CCL Coordinator, The Gambia
“We were thrilled to hear of the Canadian Supreme Court ruling – another step on the road to a global green economy. Canada continues to have a great working example of fair and just carbon pricing that we can show the UK Government.”
Louisa Davison, Steering Committee CCL UK
“CCL Colombia welcomes the news about the carbon tax in Canada. It is an achievement and a step forward to face the climate emergency and advance in the decarbonization of the economy, generating new spaces for dialogue. Ratifying the carbon tax as the most cost-effective measure to combat climate change. Congratulations Canada.”
Laura Morales and Andrés Cabanzo, CCL Colombia.
“We put our actions and faith in the system knowing that we will not be the beneficiaries of our efforts but feel ecstatic that it will benefit future generations.” / “Nous mettons nos actions et notre foi dans le système en sachant que nous ne serons pas les bénéficiaires de nos efforts, mais nous nous réjouissons de savoir que les générations futures en profiteront.”
Gerry Labelle, CCL Leader in Stephenville NL and founding National Board Member, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada ((2010-2015)
“The Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that the federal government’s carbon pricing regime is constitutional – while expected – is a welcome balm amidst a Herculean struggle to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. The ruling added much-needed momentum on effective climate action. A rising fee on carbon to reach $170 per carbon tonne by 2030, and money returned to households, is a cornerstone of Canada’s plan to surpass its Paris targets and join the world in transitioning to a clean energy economy. There must be no stopping now.”
Cheryl McNamara, Founder of the Toronto chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and founding National Board Member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada ((2010-2015)
“Canada has achieved a critical breakthrough for climate crisis response. By finding national pollution pricing constitutional, because mitigating the risk of climate disruption is a shared national interest, including all provinces and territories, the Supreme Court sets a precedent any nation can follow. This is scientifically informed, people-centered, economy-building climate policy.”
Joe Robertson, Executive Director, Citizens’ Climate International