Carbon Pricing at the Supreme Court of Canada

Posted on Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Supreme Court of Canada will be hearing the Carbon Pricing References from the Court of Appeals for Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta on September 23-24, 2020 concerning the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA).

This Act was adopted in 2018 as part of the federal government’s plan to tackle climate change and established a national carbon pricing scheme. Decisions of the Courts of Appeal have been divided on the question of constitutionality; both the Ontario and Saskatchewan Courts of Appeal ruled the Act to be constitutional (4-1 and 3-2, respectively), while the Alberta Court of Appeal found the Act to be unconstitutional (4-1). The Carbon Pricing Reference represents one of the most significant proceedings in Canadian environmental and constitutional law over the past decade and will have major implications for both climate change policy and the division of powers in Canada.

The panellists will cover the following issues during the webinar:

1.    An overview of the core issues before the SCC, including a description of the GGPPA, the carbon pricing scheme and the constitutional grounds on which it is challenged (s.91, Peace, Order and Good Government – National Concern Doctrine).

2.    A snapshot of SCC s.91 jurisprudence, along with a description of how the Carbon Pricing Reference arguments align with or distinguish from prior cases.

3.    The potential implications of the challenge from the perspective of Canadian environmental law and effective climate change policy.

4.    The potential implications of the challenge from the perspective of Canadian constitutional law, the federal/provincial division of powers and climate policy implementation.

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