Environnement Jeunesse v. Attorney General of Canada

(Quebec) (Civil) (By Leave)


Civil procedure — Class action — Authorization to institute class action — Justiciability of the action — Are the actions and omissions of the government of Canada to address climate change subject to judicial review under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, c. 11 and the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, CQLR c C-12? — Can the Applicant’s claim proceed by way of a class action? — Code of Civil Procedure, CQLR c C-25.01, art. 575.


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The applicant, Environnement Jeunesse is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate Quebec youth on environmental issues. Climate change being at the heart of its concerns, the applicant filed an application for authorization to institute a class action against the Attorney General of Canada as representative of the Government of Canada. It wishes to represent a class of persons described as “all Quebec residents aged 35 and under on November 26, 2018.” In its application, Environnement Jeunesse alleges gross negligence and inaction on the part of the Government in response to the serious dangers posed by climate change and accuses the Government of having failed to establish greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets that are consistent with its international commitments. Therefore, it accuses the Government of bad faith and adds that its inaction amounts to both a civil fault and a violation of the fundamental rights of the members of the class, namely: their right to life, their right to a healthy environment that respects biodiversity, and their right to equality, since the younger generations will have to bear a greater economic and social burden than their elders. By way of remedy, the applicant does not seek compensatory damages, but asks for the cessation of the violation and punitive damages of $100 per member. Recognizing that the distribution of such sums would be impractical, it suggests that the court instead order “the implementation of a remedial measure to curb global warming.” The Superior Court of Quebec dismissed the application and the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Lower Court Rulings

July 11, 2019
Superior Court of Quebec

2019 QCCS 2885, 500-06-000955-183
Application for authorization to institute class action dismissed.
December 13, 2021
Court of Appeal of Quebec (Montréal)

2021 QCCA 1871, 500-09-028523-199
Appeal dismissed.