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Richmond votes to seek fossil fuel company climate accountability – will Vancouver be next?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories – In an 8-1 vote, the City of Richmond voted last night to ask BC Premier John Horgan to enact a Liability for Climate-related Harms Act confirming the right of local governments to recover a fair share of climate costs from global fossil fuel companies. Lower Mainland climate activists are applauding Richmond’s action, and are hopeful that the City of Vancouver will take similar action on a motion to be tabled today.

Richmond is the 23rd BC local government to vote to pursue options to hold global fossil fuel companies accountable for a share of local climate costs, and the fifth to press for legislation as a tool.

Richmond’s letter to the Premier explains that such legislation is “essential both to protect BC taxpayers against rising costs from climate-related impacts and to give global fossil fuel companies incentives to transition from fossil fuels and join the fight against climate change.” The City also voted to ask the Union of BC Municipalities to make a similar request to the Premier.

This morning Vancouver City Council is expected to consider a motion introduced by Councillors Jean Swanson and Christine Boyle that calls for similar provincial legislation. The Vancouver motion (Motion B5 – Accountability for Climate Change) also asks the Mayor to write directly to 20 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies demanding that they share in the City’s climate costs, and to explore possible joint legal strategies with other local governments to recover climate costs from fossil fuel companies.

Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer and head of West Coast Environmental Law’s climate program, welcomed the action by Richmond and Vancouver’s motion.

“Local governments recognize the price that they are already paying for climate change, and know that they can’t just keep passing all of those costs onto their taxpayers while the global fossil fuel industry pays nothing and pockets massive profits. Chevron and ExxonMobil need to share the climate costs that our cities are experiencing,” said Gage.

“BC has enacted laws to make sure that global tobacco and pharma companies pay a share of the healthcare costs caused by cigarettes and opioids. With a rising tide of climate-related costs facing Vancouver and Richmond and other BC communities, it is time for the BC government to do the same for global fossil fuel companies,” he said.

On July 16, 2018 West Coast Environmental Law and more than 50 BC-based organizations sent their own letter asking Premier Horgan to enact a Liability for Climate-related Harms Act.

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For more information, please contact:

Andrew Gage | Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law
250-412-9784, agage@wcel.org