“Climate litigation offers an important avenue for addressing climate change, offering a mechanism for accountability. It can provide redress when private sector activities harm people or communities, or when systems designed to protect communities fail. Litigation is a tool for righting injustices, balancing power dynamics, and addressing harms.” [How the Latest IPCC Reports Can Strengthen Climate Litigation Efforts]
Legal research and education organizations have an increasingly important role to play in addressing environmental issues. Climate litigation is on the rise globally and over 50% have outcomes favourable to climate action.
Ecojustice, Alberta/Atlantic Provinces/British Columbia/Ontario
Ecojustice is Canada’s largest environmental law charity. They employ a two-pronged approach involving both litigation and advocacy. Among other cases, they are currently suing the BC government for a lack of climate plans, advocating for a ban on thermal coal, and calling for an investigation into “sustainable” logging in BC. Ecojustice has a newsletter and past webinars are available on their website.
Environmental Law Centre, Edmonton
The Environmental Law Centre advocates for laws that will sustain ecosystems and ensure a healthy environment and engages citizens in the law’s creation and enforcement. They have a strong educational focus and prepare a wide range of reports, such as Water Law in Alberta: A Comprehensive Guide, Managing Forests Not Forestry: Law and Policy Recommendations for Ecosystem-based Management of Alberta’s Forests, and Geothermal Energy Development in Alberta: Liability Issues in Geothermal Resource Development. They also host webinars on topics such as water law and geothermal policy, law, and regulations.
Saskatchewan Association for Environmental Law (SKAEL), Saskatoon
Based at the University of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Association for Environmental Law (SKAEL) is a group of lawyers, students, and members of the public who believe in using the power of the law to protect the environment. They have a particular focus on Saskatchewan. Recent pro bono student projects have resulted in reports on litigation against hydro projects in northern Saskatchewan and on Bill C-230 and environmental racism in Canada. SKAEL also organized an environmental law moot in 2021.
West Coast Environmental Law, Vancouver
West Coast Environmental Law is a non-profit group of environmental lawyers and strategists dedicated to safeguarding the environment through law. They offer free legal advice and support to groups and individuals who are facing environmental problems and use in-depth legal research and analysis to engage citizens, catalyze coalitions, mobilize allies, and influence decision-makers to implement environmental law reform. They address issues as varied as protecting the Great Bear Sea through Canada’s first Marine Protected Area Network, revitalizing Indigenous law with the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, and mineral tenure reform. They publish a blog, a monthly newsletter on environmental law issues, and a quarterly marine law newsletter.
Can laws save the planet? [Ecojustice]
Experts Take on Carbon Polluters in the Courtroom [Union of Concerned Scientists]
How the Latest IPCC Reports Can Strengthen Climate Litigation Efforts [Union of Concerned Scientists]
A Year After the Shell Ruling: Big Victories and Next Steps for Climate Litigation [Union of Concerned Scientists]
Earth Law Center (mission: to transform the law to recognize, honour, and protect Nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive, and evolve)
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (global network of organizations and individuals committed to the recognition of the rights of nature)
Legal Rights for the Salish Sea (working to establish legal rights for the Southern Resident Orcas)
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law (develops legal techniques to fight climate change, trains law students and lawyers in their use, and provides the public with up-to-date resources on key topics in climate law and regulation)
Climate Attribution (a thematically organized repository of scientific information relevant to climate litigation and policy-making)
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