Nelson and Rossland played a role in the March 25 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that carbon pricing by the federal government is constitutional.
The city councils of Nelson and Rossland were interveners in that case.
“I heard the news yesterday morning and actually cheered out loud in my car,” Rossland’s mayor Kathy Moore told the Nelson Star in an email on March 26.
The cities of Vancouver, Richmond, Victoria and Squamish also intervened in the case, along with several dozen organizations and associations across the country.
The case was brought to the Supreme Court by the governments of Saskatchewan and Ontario as a response to their appeal courts finding that federal carbon pricing is constitutional.
The two provinces argued at the Supreme Court of Canada that they each have their own climate policies and jurisdiction over natural resources, so the federal government should have no role.
The federal government argued that it has the authority to address issues that are national in scope and that climate change is an existential threat. The cities of Rossland and Nelson intervened in support of that position.
Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote the decision for the majority of the judges, finding the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act to be constitutional. They noted that global warming causes harm beyond provincial boundaries and that it is a matter of national concern.
“One of the reasons that I pushed for Nelson to join the case as an intervener is because a national carbon price is an important foundation to our local climate plan,” said Nelson city councillor Rik Logtenberg.
“Nelson has set targets for emissions reduction of 75 per cent by 2030, in line with the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” he said.
“Carbon pricing will encourage people to make different transportation and energy choices. This will reduce emissions and get the city closer to our targets. Without carbon pricing, the city would have to find other, less efficient (and almost certainly more expensive), ways to make up the difference.”
Moore said recognizing that the climate crisis transcends individual provinces’ jurisdiction is a welcome step.
“So often it confounds me,” she said, “that the fight against climate change isn’t being handled with the urgency it requires.”