An Introduction to Climate Change and the Law

“How can global warming be real if winter this year is so cold? Isn’t this just a normal fluctuation in earth’s temperature? There’s nothing we can do about it anyway. It would hurt our economic interests too much to do anything about climate change. It’s not going to be a problem for a long time, so why worry now? It wouldn’t be so bad to have warmer temperatures! The weather seems normal today! The hole in the ozone layer causes climate change. Scientists still disagree about whether climate change is really happening. It’s not our fault!”[1] Climate change is a polarizing but crucial issue facing our world and these arguments are rife in our political and social discourse. This section will help you sift through some of these statements and help you understand how the law can play a role in our climate change crisis.

Climate change and the law is one of our topical sections focused on a more discrete area of the law – the others include species, water, toxins & waste, and energy. You can jump around these sections in any order and can focus on a particular topic that is important to you or you can start here and move through each one – this will help you understand how each area of environmental law is connected. Start with the links on the left hand side, and as you complete each sub-topic, you will follow the links at the bottom of each page (or the links on the left hand sides) to the next topic in order.

Teachers:

  • Lesson plans are designed to be used in conjunction (and often after) spending time on the website content itself. They are adaptable and can be used in their entirety or parts of each can be drawn on to create content appropriate for your grade level and curriculum.
  • For this section, we suggest focusing on the Climate Litigation lesson plan which will allow students to participate in a mock climate change hearing. Before starting on this lesson plan, students will have had the opportunity to read about other climate litigation happening around the world.
  • We also suggest starting with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms lesson plan to ensure that students have a basic understanding of how the charter works and what tools can be used to enforce it.

Students

  • The lesson plan that we suggest pairing with this section is the Climate Litigation lesson plan which will help you set up a mock climate change hearing. We also suggest starting with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms lesson plan which will introduce you to how the charter works and how individuals can use it to enforce their rights.
  • The website content and lesson plans can be completed in groups or on your own to expand your thinking. Make sure to check back with the website content if you have any questions or aren’t sure how to finish.

Additional Resources

  • Don’t forget that you can always look to our Resources page for some other websites and sources of information both to help with the lesson plans and to expand your knowledge even further!

[1] Sara Rust & Michael Gonchar, “A Lesson Plan About Climate Change and the People Already Harmed by It” (22 March 2017) The New York Times online: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/22/learning/lesson-plans/a-lesson-plan-about-climate-change-and-the-people-already-harmed-by-it.html.

 

How do we talk about climate change? >>

 

 

 

Climate Change & the Law

Lesson Plan: Fundamentals of Environmental Law
Lesson Plan: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Lesson Plan: Tragedy of the Commons
Lesson Plan: Climate Litigation

Curriculum Connections

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