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Vancouver votes to demand accountability from global fossil fuel companies

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Today, Vancouver City Council voted 7-4 to take a series of actions demanding that global fossil fuel companies share in the climate change costs incurred by the City. 

Vancouver becomes the 24th community in B.C. to take such action to ensure that their costs are shared with international fossil fuel companies rather than borne entirely by local taxpayers. Today, municipal governments that represent 32 per cent of B.C. residents have now taken, or voted to take action to hold fossil fuel companies accountable.

Representatives from Georgia Strait Alliance and West Coast Environmental Law—two of the drivers behind this initiative—responded:

Georgia Strait Alliance’s Community Organizer, Anna Barford, said:

“Actions to address our warming planet are especially important on Canada’s west coast where our energy policy continues to support new fossil fuel projects when we need to start weaning ourselves from them. The construction of new pipelines, port expansions, and the extraction and shipping of liquified natural gas will add untold greenhouse gas emissions into our environment as decades pass.

A desire for cooperation with local governments beyond provincial borders shows that Vancouver is serious about recovering local climate costs from the profiters of this winner-take-all business model that has been leaving our communities on the losing end.”

West Coast Environmental Law’s Staff Lawyer, Andrew Gage, said:

“Global fossil fuel companies massively contributed to, and profited from, climate change despite knowing in the 1960s that their products would cause global temperature rise and huge impacts. Once Vancouver and other B.C. communities exercise their legal and moral power to demand that those global players share their local climate costs, Shell and ExxonMobil will have to begin including the costs of climate change in their business decisions, allowing them to make better decisions going forward.

We all need to do more to reduce our fossil fuel pollution – but it’s just bad economics if Vancouver taxpayers pay 100% of the (to name one example) $1 billion or more in sea-level costs while Chevron and Saudi Aramco pocket the profits. We cannot leave these companies with the impression that they can continue to make massive profits by delaying and undermining global climate action; they need the incentive to innovate and transition to a sustainable, clean energy economy.”

Under Motion B5, Accountability for Climate Change, the City of Vancouver will:

  • Send climate accountability letters to 20 of the world’s largest oil, gas and coal companies demanding that they share responsibility for the harm caused by their products;
  • Ask B.C. and Canadian governments to enact laws that confirming the responsibility of global fossil fuel companies to pay a fair share of the costs resulting from their products, 
  • Explore collaboration with other Canadian communities seeking to recover climate costs from global fossil fuel companies, and 
  • Support resolutions at the Union of BC Municipalities calling for similar action.

Georgia Strait Alliance and West Coast Environmental Law thank the City of Vancouver for its climate leadership, and the many organizations and individuals who have supported this motion. 

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For more information, contact:

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