Law Matters | Spring 2020
At the beginning of February, the Law Matters Editorial Committee met for its annual brainstorming session regarding topics for the magazine in 2020, landing on the topic of climate justice and the law. At that time, COVID-19 had not yet manifested to its current scope and significance, so though it would have been particularly timely, this print edition of Law Matters is not dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as part of Law Matters migration onto a digital platform, our spring publication includes a series of online-only articles exploring various facets of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on legal practice. Further, in assembling this edition, we have noticed several parallels between the issues presented by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Climate change and the pandemic show us both the frailty of human society, and the importance of resilience (while mindful of how one’s resilience is inextricable from their privilege). Regardless of how climate change litigation and legislation develops, or how reporting requirements for the environment and investors take shape, we will, both as people and as a profession, need to be innovative, flexible, and resilient, so as to adjust to our changing realities. These are the very same qualities that have been demanded of the profession throughout the pandemic. As noted in this edition’s Practice Advisor column by Elizabeth Aspinall, the profession of law has been notoriously slow to adapt to change, but in the last 2 months, we have seen the profession and courts make tremendous efforts to ensure that the wheels of justice keep turning, even when almost every aspect of practice has been changed or disrupted. So, while climate change, and its intersection with justice will still be a significant issue to tackle long after social distancing has ended, the profession has shown that it can rise to the challenges it will present. Critically, though, we have also witnessed the disastrous—indeed, fatal—consequences of not acting in advance and with precaution to looming threats the effect of which are amplified by our increasingly interconnected lives.
In this edition, Dustin Klaudt, a lawyer currently pursuing his LLM in climate litigation, provides us with a comprehensive history of climate litigation across the globe, with a focus on the strategy and results of that litigation and how it may shape Canada’s judicial responses to similar claims.
In a unique intersection between climate justice and COVID-19, University of Calgary Law Professor Shaun Fluker has outlined the impacts of COVID-19 and the suspension of routine environmental reporting in Alberta, which raises a number of questions and concerns about both the immediate impact of those decisions and the leadership of the provincial government in regards to climate change issues.
Matthew Huys and Daniel Downie discuss the New York v Exxon litigation regarding Exxon’s alleged misrepresentations about the cost of future climate change to investors. And, in a similar vein, David Tupper, Jeff Bakker, Brendan MacArthur Stevens and Peter Moorman discuss the changes to public disclosure of climate change related risks. These two articles highlight the importance of ensuring transparency regarding climate change risks and costs, while warning of changes to come as corporations navigate shifting guidance and standards.
Meredith James and Steve Major provide a spirited point/counterpoint regarding the proposed CBA resolution for climate justice which demonstrates that, while many appreciate the importance of climate change action, the determination as to which actions to take and how climate goals are best achieved, remains contentious.
Finally, Law Matters is also proud to announce that the magazine will be moving to a digital platform in the coming months, which will increase our ability to provide readers with content that is immediately responsive to current events, developing case law, and professional trends. As we start that transition, we have, as noted, a selection of articles regarding COVID-19 and the profession that can only be found on our online platform at www.nationalmagazine.ca/LawMatters. Going forward, much historical and current Law Matters content will be available there. These articles include a discussion of family law and COVID-19 by Emily Varga at Jones Divorce Law, insurance claims in the face of pandemic losses by Michel Doerksen at Field Law, the changing landscape of criminal law and COVID-19 by Nicole Rodych at Ruttan Bates, and remote dispute resolution with John Paul Boyd, QC.
Stay healthy, safe and happy reading.