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B.C. court tosses lawsuit alleging province broke rules to report emission targets

VANCOUVER — A British Columbia judge has tossed out a lawsuit that accused the B.C. government of violating its own rules to account for greenhouse gas emission targets.
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B.C. Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman speaks during an announcement at Burns Bog, in Delta, B.C., on Monday, June 29, 2020. A British Columbia judge has tossed out a lawsuit that accused the B.C. government of violating its own rules to account for greenhouse gas emission targets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER — A British Columbia judge has tossed out a lawsuit that accused the B.C. government of violating its own rules to account for greenhouse gas emission targets.

In dismissing the lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club of British Columbia, Justice Jasvinder Basran finds the environment and climate change minister has "reasonably complied" with the Climate Change Accountability Act.

It requires the government to publish annual reports outlining progress toward emissions targets for 2025, 2040 and 2050, but the Sierra Club alleged both the 2021 report and the oil and gas sector target for 2030 didn't include that data.

Basran agrees the case represents "an appropriate legal question" because wording of the act indicates the legislature "intended for these reporting obligations to be enforceable by the courts," but he says it's up to the Sierra Club to show the 2021 report had "fundamental flaws."

He finds the report contains information on emissions for every year in question, including the 2025 target, which he says B.C. "somewhat disappointingly" admits will be missed, but Basran rules the report meets all requirements set out in the legislation.

He disagrees with the Sierra Club that detailed explanations are needed about B.C.'s "plans to continue progress toward achieving" emissions targets, and rules the environmental group wants more thorough reporting than the act requires.

"Sierra Club seeks information that would enable it and the public to review the form, content, and expected results of B.C.’s climate change initiatives," writes Basran.

"While this information may be useful and may contribute to actually meeting one of the enumerated targets in a break from the consistent history of missing its targets, this type of reporting is simply not required pursuant to the (act)," says the decision.

The case is dismissed with each side responsible for its own costs. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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