There is much to celebrate about the exciting, landmark decision from the Montana District Court in the youth case of Held v. Montana. (To read the full text of the decision, issued on August 14, 2023, click HERE.) Shortly after the trial ended in June, a summary of key evidence and the plaintiffs’ final argument was posted on this site HERE.
For decades Montana’s Constitution has included the right to a clean, healthful environment, but the Republican state government has disregarded it. Instead, it has aggressively encouraged an increase in fossil fuel mining, refining, burning, power generation and exportation, and ignored the resulting environmental and climate impacts. Judge Kathy Seeley’s 103-page decision is unhesitatingly clear and persuasive. She ruled that some provisions of Montana’s environmental legislation are unconstitutional, such as those that forbid any consideration of climate change when granting energy-related permits and disallow climate change court claims.
As a trial decision it might not be binding on other courts, but it represents a huge moral victory for climate action. Her findings on the cause and extent of the climate crisis are unassailable, especially since the State made little effort to contest the plaintiffs’ expert testimony. For example, part way through the trial the State decided not to call its opposing climate consultant as an expert witness.
On the day the decision was released the Washington Post reported this “sweeping win, one of the strongest decisions on climate change ever issued by a court, could energize the environmental movement and usher in a wave of cases aimed at advancing action on climate change.” This “stunning ruling,” according to the New York Times the next day, will compel “Montana, a major coal and gas producing state, to consider climate change when deciding whether to approve or renew fossil fuel projects.”
By comparison, we In Ontario and the rest of Canada continue to wait and hope for our courts to brush off their timidity and allow climate claims to succeed. Most recently, the youth climate case of Mathur v. Ontario, the first one to reach trial in Canada, was dismissed on April 14, 2023. That decision, now under appeal, is reviewed on this site HERE. Thanks to Judge Seeley, the analysis, findings, and decision in Held v. Montana will now be required reading for Canadian judges adjudicating a climate claim. And hopefully this document will provide a template which will embolden them to follow suit.
Along with the Ontario Climate Emergency Campaign (OCEC), SCAN! organized a webinar with Ralph Torrie, an expert in the field of energy and environment. Ford’s government released “Powering Ontario’s Growth,” which locks Ontario into a costly – and climate wrecking – energy future. The Ontario government has decided to push renewable energy to the sidelines as it commits to more fossil gas, more dirty hydrogen, and more costly nuclear.
Read University of Toronto professor’s sociology students’ major research project on seniors and the climate justice movement. The work is based on interviews with both SCAN! and non-SCAN! seniors. The project includes a summary of some of the latest research on seniors and the climate crisis.
A hefty new report (109 pages) has arrived from the United Nations Environment Program (July 27, 2023) in conjunction with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Climate School (Columbia Law School). It is entitled “Global Climate Litigation: 2023 Status Review” and updates two previous editions (2017 and 2020). The report surveys domestic and international climate rights cases happening around the world, including issues like the right to a healthy environment, human rights, vulnerable groups claims, keeping fossil fuels in the ground, environmental impact assessment, transnational responsibility, corporate liability and responsibility, financial institutions’ responsibility, adaptation, disclosure, greenwashing, backlash cases, and future trends.
Click HEREto read this thorough overview of these consequential cases.
Part 2 of this series, “The Story of Mathur v. Ontario,” focuses on the landmark court decision handed down in April 2023 dismissing all of the claims by the young applicants. “Climate litigation is complex, time-consuming, expensive, slow, frustrating and usually unsuccessful … “
Click HERE to read Alan Levy’s detailed analysis of this troubling decision.
Help get the Ford government to release two climate change reports they have been sitting on. They analyze the impacts climate change is likely to have on Ontario and include some strategies for reducing those impacts. Please sign and share this letter.
Click the button below to read the Open Letter.
Send an email to JPreleasethereports@gmail.com with “Add my name” in the subject line. Put your name, town or city, and postal code in the body of the email. Your name will be added to the Open Letter when it is published.
Send messages to others you think will be sympathetic, asking them to add their names as well.
Ploughshares’ Wendy Stocker recently spoke with SCAN! member Kenneth Epps about the alarming links between climate change and increased threats to global security:
“It is no exaggeration,” says Epps, “to state that climate breakdown is a global existential threat, and like the other existential threat, nuclear weapons, it is a problem created by human action that can only be solved by human counteraction.”
SCAN! has endorsed this excellent tool, an inventory of suggestions prepared by a group of concerned residents in Ontario to help promote climate action by municipalities and residents. They encourage people to help themselves to any/all of these ideas and promote them far and wide.
The stakes are high in the Toronto mayoral race. This is an opportunity for SCAN! members to raise the climate crisis with candidates. Teams of people with signs and leaflets will pop up at events where candidates are campaigning.
Our leaflet, which you can view HERE, encourages passersby to ask the candidates a set of questions on specific issues based on demands formulated by the Toronto mayoral campaign. Those demands are set out below.
Fully fund Toronto’s net zero strategy:
Targets for 2040 – net zero emissions
Targets for 2030 – 100% of new buildings are designed to near 0 GHG emissions, 75% of trips under 5 k are walked, biked or on transit, corporate emissions down by 65%,
Between 2022 and 2025 – accelerate reduction in natural gas use, increase access to walking, biking, increase the number of electric transit vehicles, increase in renewable local energy to contribute to carbon free grid, ensure near zero emissions for all new construction, work with experts to explore limiting use of natural gas and new installations.
Increase canopy cover, enhance and expand green spaces
Work with Indigenous people to share knowledge
A climate advisory group has been launched. Lyn Adamson is on the board
Ensure net zero city owned buildings.
Reverse all cuts to TTC service and expand services. Increase electric buses. Make transit free. This makes it possible to move away for cars. Increase low carbon surface level transit.
Address climate issues that affect residents – adaptation strategies to ensure systemic support for vulnerable residents. Need to do this to gain support from residents.
Address needs of Indigenous people – social justice, income, housing and adaptation.
Oppose the expansion of Portland’s gas plant and take steps to shut it down. Ford is pushing expansion. There is a province-wide campaign against gas plants and the installation of new gas lines in communities. SCAN! is a member.
SCAN! member Alan Levy has written a perceptive summary of the progress of the legal challenge initiated by a very impressive group of young people concerned about the impact of the climate crisis:
“Mathur v. Ontario is a Charter case that was launched in 2019 by seven young Ontario residents, some of whom are Indigenous. Their claim: the newly elected Conservative Government weakened provincial GHG emission targets, leaving them more exposed to harmful impacts from the climate crisis. They allege violation of their right to life and security of the person (section 7 of Charter) and greater vulnerability due to their young age (discrimination under section 15).
The Government tried to put a quick end to the case without a full hearing, but, happily, Justice C.J. Brown of the Superior Court of Justice rejected that effort. Her exemplary decision (November 12, 2020) is discussed in Part 1 of a SCAN! series on the Mathur case. A full hearing on the merits was conducted by Justice Vermette in September 2022, a new milestone for any climate Charter case in Canada.
Her decision was rendered on April 14, 2023. It is important to note that although much of the Applicants’ factual evidence was accepted, the case was dismissed on the basis that the Government’s weaker GHG target did not violate the Charter.
Kudos to these young people who are appealing the decision.”
Alan Levy will be providing in-depth analyses in a forthcoming series of articles.
In the interim, click HERE to read Alan’s article, “The Story of Mathur et al. v. Ontario.”
Two SCAN! members who are active with Shift Action, an organization that helps Canadians put pressure on their pension funds to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate change solutions, along with fellow retired teachers as well as active teachers, were finally granted a meeting with investment fund managers at the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan on March 28. This was the result of a lengthy process. The group of retired teachers had been working together for over two years and, after the April 2022 AGM, had penned a letter to OTPP with follow-up questions. It took until December 21 and quite a lot of pressure to get a reply from the CEO. The reply did not satisfactorily answer our questions, and, therefore, we wrote back asking for a meeting. We didn’t actually expect to get one …The meeting went quite well. Seven of us met virtually with three representatives of OTPP. They gave a brief but polished presentation explaining their efforts to decarbonize their assets by 2050. And each of us brought up a concern, such as expansion of airports we own in Europe, their stubborn position on engagement rather than divestment, their lack of satisfactory examples of reliable transition assets, the conflict of interest of some of their board members who also sit on boards of fossil fuel companies, their poor use of proxy voting at shareholder meetings, and their continued investment in LNG and pipelines. We will continue to communicate our concerns and will be attending the AGM on April 13. There will also be a rally and information picket in front of the AGM’s location this year, at the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St, 4:00 pm. Check out Shift Action for information related to your pension. https://www.shiftaction.caIf you are a retired teacher who would like to get involved, contact Patrick DeRochie firstname.lastname@example.org
We all know that the Ford government poses a dire threat to the Greenbelt. Greenbelt Promise has compiled a list of ways to meet that threat. Whether you’d like to participate from home or ‘take it to the streets,’ you’ll want to take a look at the many ways you can take a stand–and make a difference.
It is sad to see Danielle Smith and her defenders attack proposed federal legislation because it refers to a “just transition” from fossil fuels, which are largely responsible for the climate crisis that has set Fort McMurray and the rest of humanity on fire (when it isn’t drowning or starving us).
Legislation focused on ensuring that workers and communities currently dependent on the production of fossil fuels are not abandoned, but transitioned to more sustainable occupations and industries, surely qualifies as just, alien as that term may be to those who prioritize economic values.
Defenders of business as usual, no matter its consequences for life on this planet, also ignore that the legislation hopefully will address the needs of vulnerable and impoverished consumers of fossil fuels, many the subjects of environmental racism.
Listening to Ms. Smith and her supporters would leave us spinning in the dark.
Gail Greer, Sociologist and environmentalist (retired), Toronto
Real climate action in the global North means making common cause with the global South. We’re responsible for making Canada finally move beyond lip service. The greatest cost of climate breakdown is borne, not by the industrialized world which is most responsible, but by those who didn’t cause it. Let’s protect the global environment that we all share by getting serious about climate breakdown.
Mobilizing for climate action here contributes directly to addressing suffering in South Asia and around the world. Please join us in this virtual gathering as we build solidarity, acting together for the common good and survival of humanity.
SCAN! co-chair Nick De Carlo talks about his organizing background, how his interest in climate issues developed, how climate issues affect seniors, and what role seniors can play. It’s well worth watching/listening to.
“Both market-based policies proposed by the federal government … are seriously flawed…” They will fail to meet Canada’s commitment to 40 to 45% reductions by 2030, let alone net zero by 2050. SCAN! recommends a third option – enforcing a hard, declining cap on industry emissions and investing in renewable energy alternatives and other measures that reduce demand for fossil fuels.
SCAN! will participate in the walk to stop Highway 413, and we are encouraged by the number of people who have already signed up. If you are able bodied, join us. Walking in good company to protect the Greenbelt feels a lot better than sitting at home and gnashing your teeth.
SCAN! is one of the partner organizations planning for this important demonstration in Toronto. There will be several other SCAN!- led demonstrations around the province, all part of the Global Fridays For Future Strike. If you are able bodied, join one of the SCAN! contingents. Members will receive information about meeting places and times.
Sophia, Zoe, Shaelyn, Shelby, Alex, Madison, and Beze — represented by Ecojustice lawyers — are going to the Ontario Superior Court on September 12–14. This case is a Canadian first, and we want them to head into proceedings with your support ringing in their ears. They’re suing the Ontario government because its weakened climate target violates the constitutional right to life, liberty, and security of every person in Ontario. You can read about their journey to the full hearing here. Support them by joining the rally!
Click HERE for an update on this very important case.
“Net-zero emissions” sounds like an ambitious goal, but for most corporations, it’s just kicking the can down the road.” These provocative words come from a video titled New Climate Promises, Same Old Global Warming from Agnes Walton and Kristopher Knight, which recently published in The New York Times.