Suing for climate change

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You might recall a recent Federal Court ruling (currently under appeal) that refused to force the government to enforce Canada’s Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.

Interestingly, a U.S. court ( the Second Circuit of Appeals) ruled last month in Connecticut v. American Electric, that victims of climate change can sue coal-fired electric utilities in common law nuisance.

Of course Canadian courts are only required to follow Canadian case law. But jurisprudence from other common law jurisdictions (including the U.S. , the U.K. and Australia) does have persuasive value. As this Lawyers Weekly article points out, “the essential arguments and responses are equally applicable in Canada.”

It’s a reminder that whether laws are enforced or not large polluters can find themselves on the hook for damages down the line.