On October 20, 2008, the Federal Court of Canada dismissed three applications brought by Friends of the Earth (FOTE) regarding alleged breaches of duties under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (KPIA) by the Minister of the Environment and the federal Cabinet. The KPIA, a private member’s bill passed in 2007 by opposition parties, requires that the Minister prepare an annual Climate Change Plan that ensures that Canada meets its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. The Minister is also required to report on the greenhouse gas reductions projected to result from the government’s policies. The Climate Change Plan that the Minister subsequently published reaffirmed the government’s position that meeting Canada’s Kyoto commitments was not feasible. FOTE alleged that this and other government actions constituted a failure to comply with the duties imposed by the KPIA. The Court found that the KPIA creates a system of public and parliamentary accountability, which is not open to substantive judicial review. The Court also held that it cannot review the reasonableness of the government’s response to the KPIA. Although the Court acknowledged that these applications raised important questions, it indicated that they are “inherently political” in nature and should be resolved in a political forum rather than in the courts.
For further information, please see cas-ncr-nter03.cassatj. gc.ca/rss/2008%20FC%201183%20Decision.pdf.