Energy Illiteracy v Climate Law – A Response To “An Open Letter on Climate Accountability Litigation in Canada”

Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2019

Robert Lyman is a former public servant of 27 years, and a former diplomat of 10 years. His full bio is in the brief.

Energy Illiteracy Must Not be Enshrined in Law

A Response To “An Open Letter on Climate Accountability Litigation in Canada”   

LINK TO FULL BRIEF:  Energy Illiteracy Must Not Be Enshrined in Law Aug 17 2019 FINAL

On June 24, 2019 a group of Canadian law professors published an ‘open letter’ in which they supported proposals asking federal, provincial and local governments to “take legal and other action to recover a share of the local climate costs from global fossil fuel companies, as a means of shielding taxpayers from the full range of current and future costs resulting from climate change”. This open letter is a response to that appeal.

The law professors err on six specific points. I will show that:

  1. Carbon dioxide is not pollution.
  2. The purchase and sale of oil, natural gas and coal constitute free transactions made by sellers and buyers, who are well informed about the implications of their decisions.
  3. The products sold and purchased have major societal benefits that far exceed the alleged adverse effects.
  4. In fact, forcing fossil fuel producers to cease selling their goods and services would, given the lack of alternatives, have major adverse effects on society and the economy.
  5. Canadian environmental law does not support the actions they propose.
  6. Actions taken to harm Canadian fossil fuel companies would have at most a negligible effect on the global environment.

Energy illiteracy must not be enshrined in law.

Image licensed from Shutterstock. 


Climate Change Policy – A Threat to Canada


  1. Andrew Roman

    I agree with most of this report but the legal action is not being brought under environmental law, but rather tort law. It is being compared to cigarettes and opioids as dangerous substances causing social harm that is a burden on taxpayers. They seek damages from the sellers of this « dangerous «  substance to relieve the burden on taxpayers and impose it in the sellers. This action against tobacco companies was settled for millions.

    They want to do with petroleum products what was done with cigarettes. I don’t think this lawsuit will work but it will get some media coverage which may be the real purpose.

  2. Ken

    The whole matter rests on point number 1.

    There is no evidence that rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere pose an immediate, or even an imminent, threat to the climate. The CO2 policies intended to address this non-emergency are going to destroy our economy. Where is the leadership that is needed to steer Canada away from National Suicide due to delusional climate change alarmism?

    My home City of Campbell River is telling us to get ready for one meter of sea level rise by 2100. Meanwhile the NOAA tide gauge for Campbell River is showing relative sea level is dropping 1.64 mm per year since the gauge was installed in the 1960s.

    Its not just sea level data, statements by Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment, when she is telling us that fires, floods, storms, etc are worse than ever because of anthropogenic climate change, are remarkably discordant with the observed data.

    There is zero evidence to be found anywhere that CO2 drives climate change. The hypothesis that CO2 causes climate change is supported only by climate models that are clearly wrong and demonstrably not fit for making policies. Meanwhile the observed data shows there is no climate emergency.

    To West Coast Environmental Law … Why have you and your company of lawyers not done any research to check the climate change information from UN IPCC that you are relying on? If you and your company of lawyers can’t be bothered to do your homework and look at a few simple graphs, such as UAH Satellite temperature anomaly, NOAA tide gauges, trends for moisture, fires, drought, etc, that clearly show the observed data doesn’t support the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis, then why should anyone follow your badly flawed advice?

    I am strapped to the mast. If Canada commits National Suicide by destroying its economy on the basis of delusional climate change alarmism because of people such as you, then I get wiped out too.

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