Saskatchewan’s long-shot effort to defeat the federal government’s floor price on carbon has turned into a venue for one intervenor to argue for Canada’s obligation to protect future generations from the impacts of climate change.
In the course of the case, the Intergenerational Climate Coalition “argued that the Canadian government has a constitutional obligation to protect minorities, including future generations of children who stand to be negatively impacted by climate change,” The Narwhal reports.
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“No jurisdiction, federal or provincial, should be able to use the constitutional division of powers to defeat other constitutional commitments to younger Canadians and future generations,” said Paul Kershaw, an associate professor in the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health and founder of Generation Squeeze, the lead organization among the six in the coalition.
“Experts now identify climate change as the greatest risk to human health in the 21st century,” Kershaw added. “The health harms are disproportionately being borne by younger Canadians and future generations. Clearly, we should be thinking about pricing pollution as a health intervention,” and “every government should have the ability to use every tool in its legislative toolbox to fight off what climate change has in store.”
In its court filing, the Coalition pointed to the extreme weather events, sea level rise, drought, and higher rates of heat-related deaths and cardiovascular, respiratory, and infectious diseases that will result as climate change drives average global warming to 1.5°C by 2030. That means children “will live their entire lives under the mounting environmental, economic, and health stresses,” the Coalition argues, due to political decisions arrived at before they could vote.
“Supporting the federal carbon tax initiative won’t help today’s young people get into their first homes or find better-paying jobs, but it will help provide them with the healthier future that they deserve,” The Narwhal writes, citing Kershaw.
In addition to Generation Squeeze, members of the Intergenerational Climate Coalition include the Public Health Association of B.C., the Saskatchewan Public Health Association, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Youth Climate Lab, and the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children.
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