‘It’s just unacceptable’: Youth suing Ontario government over climate change

Published 2019-11-27 07:11

Group says their rights and freedoms are being violated

Sophia Mathur is taking her climate fight to the next level.

The 12-year-old from Sudbury, Ont., who was recognized earlier this year for being the first Canadian kid to skip school and strike for the climate, is challenging the Ontario government to do more.

She’s part of a group of young people who are suing Premier Doug Ford’s government for not going far enough to fight climate change.

“Doug Ford is not doing enough to protect our future and it’s just unacceptable,” Sophia said.

If this story sounds familiar, you’re not wrong.

Last month, a group of young Canadians announced they were suing the federal government for the same thing.

And in the U.S., 21 young Americans are taking a similar approach.

Sophia Mathur, left, and Zoe Keary-Matzne are part of the lawsuit, which is the first of its kind against a province in Canada. (CBC)

Sophia is one of seven applicants taking part.

“It’s my future, it’s the future of children, and it’s unfair that some governments aren’t doing enough to take action on this,” she said.

The group is backed by the environmental organization Ecojustice and law firm Stockwoods LLP.

Sophia Mathur met climate activist Greta Thunberg in Washington, D.C., in September, when she was given an award for being the first kid in Canada to strike for the climate. (Submitted by Sophia Mathur)

The kids and teens claim that the policies on climate change brought forward by the Ontario government are not enough to secure their future.

They say that violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees “the right to life, liberty and security of the person.”

Zoe Keary-Matzne, 13, is also part of the group challenging the government.

“This is the only planet we have and it’s the only known life in the universe, and we keep continuing to harm all that life,” she said.

What the Ontario government is doing to fight climate change

The Ontario government is promising to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

That’s a big change from the previous government’s more ambitious promise to reduce emissions by 37 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, which Ford cancelled.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has scaled back the province’s climate targets since he was elected in 2018. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

The government also cancelled the plan that encouraged businesses to reduce emissions, called cap-and-trade.

They are hoping to cancel the federal carbon tax, which is believed to be the most economical way to reduce emissions, because it creates incentives to do so.

Andrew Buttigieg, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment, defended the government’s action on climate change.

He said the government is working to find ways to reduce emissions while maintaining a healthy economy and "without additional taxes."

The case has yet to be proven in court.

With files from Nick Boisvert and Andrew Chang/CBC News

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