Public Health applauds Supreme Court decision on greenhouse gas pollution pricing
The Supreme Court of Canada today ruled in favour of the constitutionality of the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (2018). This decision affirms the authority of the federal government to set national standards for carbon pricing in Canada.
The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) applauds the decision, noting that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are a quintessential public health concern because the emissions, wherever the source, disrupt biophysical and economic systems threatening the well-being and health of populations everywhere. While these effects will disproportionately impact the most vulnerable in society, every community will be affected.
“We are pleased with the Court’s ruling affirming the role of the federal government in protecting the health of Canadians,” said Ian Culbert, CPHA’s executive director. “All levels of government need to act in a coordinated fashion to prevent negative health outcomes from carbon pollution.”
This decision ensures carbon pollution will be priced throughout the country and it will help Canada fulfil its commitment under the Paris Accord, a global agreement aimed at keeping a global temperature rise this century to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C.
This decision confirms that all Canadian governments, federal and provincial, have authority to combat greenhouse gas emissions, the greatest public health threat of the 21st century. Public health is a responsibility of government shared across the provinces and federal Parliament. CPHA calls on the federal government to advance its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within its constitutional authority to fulfil its responsibility to protect Canada’s public health.
“Our collective response to climate change can also be ‘the greatest health opportunity of this century’ as many of the policies needed to fight climate change, such as carbon pollution pricing, will also produce health co-benefits, such as reduced health care costs, and improve social cohesion and equity in our communities,” said Culbert.
CPHA was one of several intervenors that supported the federal government's authority to enact the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. Jennifer L. King, Michael Finley, and Liane Langstaff, lawyers from Gowling WLG’s Environmental Law Group, represented CPHA in this intervention.