B.C.-based legal group urges Canadian Bar Association to take climate leadership

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VICTORIA — A group of lawyers wants the Canadian Bar Association to adopt a climate leadership resolution when the organization holds its annual general meeting on Wednesday.

Lawyers for Climate Justice says its resolution urges Canada's largest professional association for lawyers to consider climate impacts and climate justice when proposing future law reforms and educational programs.

The group, launched in Victoria in 2019, says all lawyers should take climate action, where appropriate.

It says lawyers should advise clients about climate-related costs and opportunities, work for reduced or no cost on certain environmental issues and make efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions in their own practices.

If adopted, Lawyers for Climate Justice says its resolution will mirror similar responses to the climate crisis by organizations including the American Bar Association and the International Bar Association.

The group also says its resolution has support from legal heavyweights such as Beverley McLachlin, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and Dianne Saxe, Ontario's former environmental commissioner.

Meredith James, a member of Lawyers for Justice, says climate instability affects vulnerable communities and has broad implications for justice.

"Lawyers have an important role to play in what is now widely recognized as the greatest crisis facing humanity," James says in a statement.

"This resolution encourages Canadian lawyers to develop the tools and expertise to help before it is too late," she says.

The Canadian Bar Association website shows delegates to the annual meeting, being held virtually, will debate proposed resolutions for just over an hour on Wednesday afternoon.

The association represents 36,000 lawyers, judges, notaries, law teachers and law students, advocates for its membership and provides legal training and information.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2021.

The Canadian Press