Sustainability legal expert available to comment on Supreme Court carbon charges verdict

Elizabeth Steyn

Today, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its long-awaited verdict in the carbon charges case. According to Western Law professor Elizabeth Steyn, coming in at 405 pages, it is a judgment that is substantial in both form and content.

In the written ruling, Chief Justice Richard Wagner said climate change is “a real danger” and evidence shows carbon charges are key to addressing it.

Elizabeth SteynSteyn leads Western Law’s interdisciplinary sustainable development curriculum, including the Global Sustainability Certification and the Graduate Diploma in Mining Law, Finance, and Sustainability.

She is available to comment on today’s Supreme Court verdict.

Steyn says:

“This judgment, certain to go into the history books as a pivotal moment in Canadian constitutional jurisprudence, is breathtaking in its clarity and detailed precision.”

Steyn stresses the importance of the fact that the court held in its verdict that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is a “critical measure” against an “existential threat to human life in Canada and around the world.”

“This case is so important because it weighs in on the global climate crisis against the background of Canada’s constitutional division of powers. However, where many had feared that the employ of Parliament’s power for peace, order and good government on national concern grounds would entail the erosion of Canada’s strength as a federation, the court has used this opportunity to very neatly illustrate how reconcilable the two concepts are.”

Fluent in five languages, Steyn is the author or co-author of 12 articles/book chapters in peer-reviewed publications. Her research is focused on addressing conflicts that arise at the intersection of Indigenous sacred sites and natural resource development projects in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Commentary reflects the perspective and scholarly interest of Western faculty members and is not an articulation of official university policy on issues being addressed.

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