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    ENvironnement JEUnessse v. Attorney General of Canada

    Climate change

    The case

    ENvironnement JEUnesse (ENJEU) filed an application against the Government of Canada for authorization to institute a class action on behalf of all Quebec resident aged 35 and under. The class action sought a declaration that the Canadian government’s behaviour in the fight against climate change infringes on the rights of the youth, as well as an order to pay punitive damages. The action also sought to put an end to this interference with Class Members’ fundamental rights.

    According to ENJEU, the Canadian government’s behaviour infringes on a number of rights protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms:

    The right to life, integrity and security of the person protected by section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and section 1 of the Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms;

    The right to live in a healthful environment in which biodiversity is preserved, protected by section 46.1 of the Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms; and

    The right to equality protected by section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and section 10 of the Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

    Authorization refused

    On February 11, 2022, ENJEU filed an Application for Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. ENJEU was seeking to overturn the December 13, 2021 Court of Appeal decision which dismissed the organisation’s appeal and by which it refused to grant the authorization to bring a class action against the Government of Canada.

    Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear ENJEU’s appeal and the file is now closed.

    However, the case will have contributed significantly to legal education, particularly among youth, and to the academic debate on the issues raised by the case. TJL is proud to have represented ENvironnement JEUnesse on a pro bono basis, up to the Supreme Court of Canada.

    About ENvironnement JEUnesse

    For nearly 40 years, the non-profit organization ENvironnement JEUnesse has been acting to raise awareness on environmental issues among Quebec’s youth, empower them through educational workshops, and encourage them to take action in their communities. ENJEU has been intervening on climate issues for nearly 30 years now, in addition to speaking for Quebec’s youth at the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change since 2005.

    A global movement

    Several similar proceedings have been instituted around the world, notably in the Netherlands, where the government was forced to adopt a concrete plan to reach its climate target. The Dutch government is legally bound to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Similar legal actions are ongoing in the United States, Belgium, Norway, Ireland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Several lawsuits have already led to victories, notably in France, Germany, Pakistan and Colombia. We hope that many others will follow.