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Ecolawyers applaud AVICC for vote challenging fossil fuel companies on climate costs

Monday, April 16, 2018

VICTORIA – On Saturday, April 14, 2018, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) voted to send a climate accountability letter to Chevron, Exxon and 20 fossil fuel companies. AVICC membership includes 53 local governments, representing more than 850,000 British Columbians. AVICC also asked the Union of BC Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to send their own climate accountability letters.

Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law, was present at the historic vote and applauded the delegates for their leadership.

“AVICC governments understand that our communities can no longer just pass growing climate costs on to their taxpayers,” said Gage. “Instead, they are politely but firmly asking the world’s largest fossil fuel companies to pay their fair share of those costs.”

The call for AVICC to send this climate accountability letter came from the City of Victoria, which sent its own climate accountability letter in November, 2017. In introducing the resolution, Victoria Mayor, Lisa Helps, noted that sending a letter was “mild” compared to the decision of New York City to sue many of these same fossil fuel companies and warned delegates that the costs of preparing for climate change would eventually be “insurmountable if we only have our tax base to rely on.”

BC local governments have pioneered the climate accountability letter – a public statement of the costs each community faces from climate change combined with a demand that fossil fuel companies take cradle to grave responsibility for the harm caused by their products. In less than a year, 10 local governments from across BC have voted to send climate accountability letters – five of them in the past month.

“Unless fossil fuel companies forced to confront the true costs of their products, they and their investors will continue to drag their feet on building a more sustainable future,” said Gage. “AVICC and its local governments can let Chevron, Shell and other fossil fuel companies know that we do not accept their assumption that they can make billions of dollars from oil, gas and coal sales while our communities pay for the full costs of the resulting harm.”

According to polling commissioned by West Coast Environmental Law, 75% of British Columbians support their local government sending climate accountability letters. Fossil fuel pollution caused by the operations and products of the 20 major companies to which AVICC will send its letter represents about 30% of human-caused greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere today.

West Coast Environmental Law is one of more than 60 BC-based organizations who have challenged their local governments to send climate accountability letters and to consider a class action against fossil fuel companies.

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For more information, please contact:

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

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

For more on communities that have sent Climate Accountability Letters, see www.wcel.org/campaign-update.