Illustration courtesy of Easy Science for Kids

Courtenay urged to send climate accountability letter

Jan 31, 2019 | News

By Pat Carl

The most recent Courtenay City Council meeting, held on Jan. 28, found
Andrew Gage, an attorney with West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL), on the agenda.

Introduced to the Council by Kelly Matthews, representing the Dogwood BC, Gage suggested that Courtenay join with other municipalities in sending a Climate Accountability Letter to the 20 fossil fuel companies most responsible for global warming. Such a letter sent by Courtenay “would start an important conversation” which serves as a preamble to possible litigation in the future, according to Gage.

Gage noted that climate costs, such as those related to fires, fire suppression, droughts, and coastal erosion due to sea level rise, as well as the building of climate resilient communities are chiefly borne by local taxpayers and municipalities. WCEL believes that it’s time that climate adaptation and damage costs are shared by the companies that have made money hand-over-fist while helping to create a global climate catastrophe.

After Gage’s brief presentation, he fielded questions from City Councillors. Doug Hillian cited concern about oil company push-back. Gage responded that the WCEL’s focus is on large global oil producers which do not include smaller local players such as most of those active in Canada.

Will Cole-Hamilton wondered what kind of response other municipalities had received from oil companies which had been sent the letter. According to Gage, only about three or four of the oil companies have responded by citing their acceptance of the science demonstrating global warming, but everyone had also managed to “duck their responsibility.” However, Gage noted that Chevron had disclosed to its shareholders the “realistic risk” fossil fuel extraction presents and that Shell had pointed out in its response that the company has made a $2 billion-dollar commitment to green renewables.

Action on Gage’s suggestion that Courtenay write its own Accountability Letter is deferred pending staff research until the next Council meeting.

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