Eco-lawyers: BC communities should follow New York City’s lead and sue fossil fuel companies

VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories – Today’s announcement that New York City is suing fossil fuel companies for local climate impacts is a “game changer” for climate accountability, says West Coast Environmental Law. Following New York’s announcement, West Coast reiterated its calls for BC local governments to take action against fossil fuel companies, including by launching a similar class action.

“New York City is the latest community to wake up to the fact that its residents – as victims of Hurricane Sandy and as taxpayers – are already paying the costs of climate change, while fossil fuel companies, which have made massive profits from the products that cause climate change, fail to pay their fair share,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer.

New York City joins San Francisco and several other U.S. local governments that have recently initiated litigation against fossil fuel companies for climate costs.

“The leadership of New York City, San Francisco and other U.S. local governments is an important challenge to Canadian local and provincial governments: How long are you going to pass the costs of climate change onto your taxpayers without demanding accountability from an industry that has benefited so much – and played such a large role – in causing climate change?” Gage said.

Almost a year ago, West Coast Environmental Law and 55 other BC-based groups sent a letter to all of BC’s local governments arguing that it was fiscally irresponsible to pay for climate costs with taxpayer dollars without also demanding accountability from the fossil fuel industry for its share of those costs.

West Coast applauds the four BC municipalities – Highlands, Saanich, Victoria and Colwood – that have sent letters publicly demanding that 20 fossil fuel companies pay their fair share of local climate costs. Highlands has released responses received from two fossil fuel companies denying legal liability for climate costs.

"We are urging all communities to demand accountability from the fossil fuel industry, and we will continue looking for BC local governments that are committed enough to take that next step – to sue the world’s biggest fossil fuel polluters,” said Gage.


For more information, please contact:

Andrew Gage | Staff Lawyer
250-412-9784 (Victoria) or 604-601-2506 (Vancouver)

Anjali Appadurai | Climate Communications Specialist

For more information see: