Seven young people at the helm of Mathur et. al., a historic youth-led climate case, are back in court today in what will be a crucial moment in the fight against the climate emergency in Canada. The group is at the Court of Appeal for Ontario, continuing their legal challenge of the Ontario government’s decision to significantly weaken the province’s 2030 climate target.
Sophia, Zoe, Shaelyn, Alex, Shelby, Madi, and Beze, backed by lawyers from Ecojustice and Stockwoods LLP, are fighting to protect their generation and future generations from government caused climate harms.
The case faced a setback in April 2023 when it was dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court, however the decision included several positive findings. In her decision, Justice Marie-Andrée Vermette agreed with the youth applicants that climate change will have a disproportionate impact on youth and Indigenous Peoples. The judge also found the Ontario government is risking people’s health and lives by setting a dangerously low and unscientific target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“There is urgency with this historic youth-led climate case going to court for climate action and for future generations. This case holds precedence and change towards a caring future. The voices of youth must matter in Canadian law, including our hopes and sights for the future,” said Beze Gray of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Ontario.
“What happens to the land happens to the people. For youth, our futures depend on action today. Protecting the land from climate change now is protecting Indigenous culture, language, ceremony, and land-based practices for sovereignty and self-determination.”
As the climate crisis intensifies, youth around the world have increasingly turned to climate litigation as a key tool to push governments to take this emergency seriously. These seven young Ontarians have already made Canadian legal history and are determined to continue fighting for a safer future.
“This legal challenge comes at a crucial moment for climate action in Ontario and the world at large. Data just released in the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, 2023 report confirms that last year was the hottest year on record. Now it is time for the government to turn up the heat on climate action,” said Danielle Gallant, lawyer with Ecojustice.
“These seven courageous young people have put the impact of climate change on youth and future generations at the forefront of the national debate. They are calling on their elected leaders to step up and accept their responsibility to protect Ontarians today and for generations to come.”
Attending the hearing
The hearing will be open for members of the media and public to attend in person. Space in the courtroom is not guaranteed, but an overflow room should be provided. The hearing will also be streamed live.
In-person attendance details
Date: Monday, January 15, 2024 – Tuesday, January 16, 2024
Time: Appeal hearing begins at 10 am ET
Location: Osgoode Hall, Courtroom 1 (overflow space may be provided)
Address: 130 Queen St. West, Toronto, Ontario, M5H 2N5
Virtual attendance details
Please click this link to access the public hearing livestream: https://ca01web.zoom.us/j/
Or join by telephone: Dial +1 647 374 4685 or 833 955 1088 (Canada Toll Free)
Webinar ID: 692 7562 9468; Passcode: 588969
For additional numbers (including international): https://ca01web.zoom.us/u/
Please note: unless permission is given by the court, it is an offence under s. 136 of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43, punishable by a fine of not more than $25,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both, to record any part of the hearing, including by way of screenshot/capture and photograph, as well as to publish, broadcast, reproduce or disseminate any such recording.
Featured image: Youths taking Doug Ford to court over climate pose for a photo in advance of another key hearing in Toronto. (Credit: Tilly Nelson. Set Design Kendra Martyn & Kira Evenson)