In January 2020, a divided 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the long running case, Juliana v. United States. The plaintiffs, 21 young citizens and an environmental organization, had sued the U.S. president and various federal agencies, claiming that their continued authorization and subsidization of fossil fuels contributed to catastrophic climate change that was incompatible with sustained human life. They argued that these harms constituted a violation of their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of the law, and sought declaratory relief as well as an injunction requiring the government to phase out fossil fuel emissions and draw down excess carbon dioxide emissions. The appeals court, like the District Court below, agreed with the plaintiffs that the evidence filed “leaves little basis for denying that climate change is occurring at an increasingly rapid pace” and that “this unprecedented rise stems from fossil fuel combustion and will wreak havoc on the Earth’s climate if unchecked”. The Court also accepted the plaintiffs’ expert evidence that “the federal government has long promoted fossil fuel use despite knowing that it can cause catastrophic climate change”. In the end, however, the majority concluded that the claims were not justiciable in that it was beyond the power of the court to order, design or supervise the plaintiffs’ requested remedy. The panel “reluctantly concluded that the plaintiffs’ case must be made to the political branches or to the electorate at large”.
"Climate Change Class Actions in Canada."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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