Public health arguments in support of federal carbon pollution pricing to be heard by Ontario’s Court of Appeal this week
Public health advocates will argue that the federal government of Canada has both the right and responsibility to impose carbon pollution pricing to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets and protect human health and well-being from the negative environmental, physical and mental health effects caused by inaction on climate change.
“Reducing our reliance on a carbon-based economy will be one of the most significant shifts the worldwide economy has seen since the Industrial Revolution,” says Ian Culbert, Executive Director of the Canadian Public Health Association. “But the impacts on human health and well-being will be even more significant if we don’t put a price on carbon pollution now.”
Starting today, the Ontario Court of Appeal will hear arguments on that province’s constitutional challenge of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. The Court will rule on whether the federal government has the jurisdiction to impose a price on carbon pollution in a province that does not have its own carbon pricing plan that meets federal standards.
“There is absolute certainty in the public health community that climate change is having – and will continue to have – severe negative impacts on human health around the world and especially in Canada where our rate of warming is two- to three-times that of the global rate,” said Culbert. “Greenhouse gas emissions do not respect political borders and provincial, national and global actions are all required to protect the health of Canadians.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified the effects of climate change on health as increased morbidity and mortality due to:
- heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, heat edema, heat rash, heat stress, acute cardiovascular disease and renal disease caused by increased atmospheric temperature;
- asthma, ischemic heart disease, stroke, acute lower respiratory infections, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease resulting from reduced air quality from greenhouse gas emissions;
- vector-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease as warming temperatures expand the geographic range of insect and other species; and
- extreme weather events, including flooding, droughts, cyclones, hurricanes and wildfires are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. Changes to weather and extreme weather events threaten food security, housing and infrastructure and result in lost income for those affected by the event. Climatic instability is expected to undermine crop yields, Indigenous hunting and gathering practices, and fishery production.
Climate solutions will not only protect the environment, they will save lives, reduce rates of heart disease, asthma and lung cancer, and cut health care costs.