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Eco lawyer to talk with northern BC municipalities about costs of climate change

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Williams Lake, Secwepemc Territory – Andrew Gage, a staff lawyer from West Coast Environmental Law, is attending this week’s North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) meeting to hear firsthand how wildfires and other climate-related impacts have affected northern communities – and how their elected officials expect to manage the huge costs that they face.

“Northern BC has experienced more warming than other parts of Canada, facing a mountain pine beetle epidemic and wildfires as a result,” said Gage. “I’m looking forward to hearing firsthand how local governments are dealing with these realities, how they are preparing for future climate impacts, and who they think should pay for those costs.”

West Coast Environmental Law has been a leading voice in encouraging communities to identify and plan for the costs of climate change, and to seek ways to recover a share of those costs from global fossil fuel companies like Chevron and Saudi Aramco.

However, northern BC communities have been mixed in their response. The North Coast Regional District has sent a letter to 20 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies asking that they share some of the region’s climate costs, while the City of Fort St. John has proposed a resolution to NCLGA that attacks such letters as “inappropriate.”

“If fossil fuel companies make huge profits from selling products they knew decades ago would contribute to wildfires, then we think they should help the communities that suffer harm as a result,” said Gage. “But if some northern communities don’t agree, we’d like to learn about what they see as the solution.”

BC faced its two worst wildfire seasons in history in 2017 and 2018, and communities are preparing for another challenging season this year. A recent study confirmed that BC’s 2017 wildfires were 7-11 times larger as a result of climate change.

“Insisting that global fossil fuel companies share climate costs with our taxpayers is good economics,” argued Gage. “By rejecting the idea that taxpayers should pay 100% of these costs and demanding that the fossil fuel industry pay a share, our communities can encourage those

companies to develop alternatives to fossil fuel use and to rebuild themselves as sustainable energy companies."

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For more information, please contact:

Andrew Gage| Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law
250-380-8207 (cell), agage@wcel.org