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Group of Canadian youth fighting climate change take case to Federal Court of Appeal

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VANCOUVER — Fifteen young climate activists are taking their court battle to the next level as they try to compel the Canadian government to develop a climate recovery plan based on science.

The group says it filed written arguments Monday in the Federal Court of Appeal against a dismissal of its claim that Canada's continuing greenhouse gas emissions infringe on the constitutional rights to life, liberty, security and equality.

A Federal Court judge struck down their claim last fall, ruling it would force "judicial involvement in Canada's overall policy response to climate change."

The young people and their legal team disagree, saying in a statement the lower court ruling will prevent judicial or constitutional scrutiny of climate policies, despite the harm they say the government agrees such policies cause to children and youth.

Oral arguments in the Federal Court of Appeal will be scheduled later this year and the group wants a declaration that continuing high levels of greenhouse gases violate the rights of young people who are disproportionately affected by climate change.

The 15 group members, who were between the ages of 11 and 20 when they joined the case in 2019, also want the court to force Canada to develop a comprehensive, science-based plan to reduce emissions.

The young people, supported by the David Suzuki Foundation, U.S.-based non-profit group Our Children's Trust and the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation in Victoria, pledged to appeal when their case was first rejected last fall. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press