Climate Change Litigation

Climate change is giving rise to more frequent and intense microclimatic conditions resulting in storms, heat waves, fires, droughts, flooding, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, warming oceans, global warming, biodiversity loss, and the need for adaptation.

Activists and other concerned citizens increasingly turn to the courts to try to compel governments and corporations to mitigate the effects of climate change or to compensate for failing to mitigate. Climate change litigation is still new in Canada and plaintiffs largely base their cases on Canada’s constitutional law and human rights law.

Meanwhile, legislators are beginning to explore ways to address specific areas of liability for climate-related harms. As the effects of climate change become more obvious and severe, and the filing of new lawsuits continues, climate change litigation will ramp up in the years to come.

What is climate change litigation?

Climate change litigation is an emerging area of environmental litigation predominantly focused on holding governments and corporations to account for their roles in contributing to a changing climate. By its very nature, climate change litigation often overlaps with other areas of law including environmental law, Indigenous legal issues, and energy law.

In Canada, cases have covered issues ranging from opposition to energy projects on climate grounds to constitutional challenges of environmental laws and energy laws based on environmental effects. Without specific laws that assign responsibility for climate-related harms, plaintiffs attempt to prove liability grounded in constitutional law and human rights law. This may change in the coming years as new legislation becomes law.

Climate change litigation expertise

At Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers, our environmental litigators are well-versed in climate change issues, greenhouse gas emissions regulations, and the laws that govern climate change litigation. We advise clients about emissions standards and climate change risks as well as potential areas of liability to help them achieve compliance. This includes corporate disclosure law as corporate shareholders and other stakeholders increasingly look to corporate Boards of Directors to pay regard to both climate change and ESG.

Contact our environmental lawyers today

Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers has offices in Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, and Yellowknife. Our lawyers are called to the Bar in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Ontario.

To speak with an Environmental lawyer, contact us today.