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Colwood, Vancouver Island municipalities join new movement for fossil fuel company accountability

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

VICTORIA, BC – Last night the City of Colwood became the fourth municipality on southern Vancouver Island to demand accountability from fossil fuel companies for local climate impacts. Colwood Council voted unanimously to send a “Climate Accountability Letter” to 20 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies, asking the companies to pay a fair share of the municipality’s climate costs.

Colwood joins Victoria, Saanich and Highlands in voting to send a letter of this type. According to polling commissioned by West Coast, 75% of British Columbians strongly or somewhat support their local government sending a letter to fossil fuel companies demanding a fair share of climate costs.

“The world’s fossil fuel companies are increasingly hearing from BC communities that their business model doesn’t reflect the true costs of their products,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Counsel and head of West Coast’s Climate Law in our Hands initiative. “Colwood, like Victoria, Saanich and Highlands, is looking to Chevron, Exxon and Shell to pay their fair share of the rising costs of climate change.”

Fossil fuel pollution caused by the operations and products of these 20 companies represents about 30% of human-caused greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere today, Gage noted.

“We can’t just assume that taxpayers will pay the rising tide of climate costs facing our communities,” said Anjali Appadurai, Climate Law in our Hands Campaigner. “Fossil fuel companies continue to make hundreds of billions of dollars extracting oil, gas and coal – and their perceived right to do so must be balanced against their share of responsibility for the harm caused by those products.”

Several Colwood residents joined Gage in speaking at the Council Meeting in favour of the city sending a climate accountability letter.

West Coast Environmental Law was one of more than 55 organizations from across BC that wrote to all of BC’s local governments in January asking them to write climate accountability letters to the fossil fuel industry. These organizations also asked BC municipalities to consider a joint class action against fossil fuel companies for a portion of their climate costs, similar to lawsuits launched recently by San Francisco and four other California municipalities.

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For more information, please contact:

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

Anjali Appadurai, Campaigner | West Coast Environmental Law
604-328-6443, anjali_appadurai@wcel.org

To learn more about Climate Law in our Hands, see www.climatelawinourhands.org.