This legal challenge was initiated on November 22, 2018, when Jennifer Nathan and I filed an application in the Supreme Court of B.C. The purpose of our application was to obtain “leave” (permission from the court) to call expert evidence at our trial about the emissions implications of the planned continued expansion of oil sands production to 2040. That planned growth over the next two decades is the economic justification relied on by the Government of Canada for its decision on November 29, 2016, authorizing the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline project.
Our concern is about the climate implications.
Our case, based on the summary of evidence cited in our court application, is that continued expansion of oil sands production above current levels – and the resulting rise in greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction process in Alberta and from Canada’s significant contribution to rising global oil consumption – is inconsistent with Canada’s commitment to keep the increase in global average surface temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels – and is inconsistent with Canada’s additional commitment “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (Paris Agreement, December 2015).
Between June and November last year, I prepared our Outline of Proposed Evidence, a 119-page document that provides the court with a comprehensive outline of the available evidence showing projections of current global emissions trends to 2030 and the massive scale of the emissions reductions that will be needed within the next twelve years to stay within the 2°C threshold. Our summary of evidence shows, unequivocally, that if we continue on the present path by 2030 the earth will be irrevocably committed to warming far above the 2°C limit.
Our application was heard on December 3-4, 2018, by a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver. He dismissed our case. On January 17, 2019, the judge delivered his 39-page written Reasons for Judgment, in which he gave his reasons for refusing to allow us to call evidence about climate science at our trial.
On March 11, 2019, our trial on charges of criminal contempt was held (in the absence of our evidence) and we were convicted.
We immediately filed a Notice of Appeal. On May 31, 2019, we filed our Appeal Book, which is the formal record containing our Outline of Proposed Evidence and our sworn affidavit evidence. Those documents are available on this site. The first stage of this legal case, up to the March 11, 2019 hearing, has involved legal costs of a little more than $25,000, which we have paid ourselves. We anticipate that the second part of this case, taking it to the B.C. Court of Appeal, will cost about an additional $25,000, and for that we are asking for some support from people who share our concerns.
If you’re interested in supporting this legal challenge directly without going through the GoFundMe platform, please contact us.