Faculty Author Type

Current Faculty [Jocelyn Stacey]

Published In

Journal of Environmental Law

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Climate Disruption, Canadian Constitutional Law, Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act


This analysis considers the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in References re Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, 2021 SCC 11, in which a majority of the Court upheld as constitutional national carbon pricing legislation. The decision presents an excellent illustration of the legally disruptive nature of climate change. Illustrating that nothing is static in a climate disrupted world—including constitutional law—this article identifies three shifts the Court makes in relation to climate disruption. First, the decision represents a shift away from climate denialism toward a judicial willingness to confront the environmental, social and legal implications of climate change for Canada. Second, the majority embraces and perhaps strengthens a “culture of justification” in climate decision-making. Third—and more tentatively—the majority moves beyond the erasure of Indigenous peoples from Canadian federalism but still yet fails to engage with Indigenous laws and jurisdiction as part of Canada’s constitutional response to climate change.

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