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Ontario NDP climate liability bill is a model for BC, the world

Monday, March 26, 2018

VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories - Lawyers from the West Coast Environmental Law Association applaud the Liability for Climate Harm Act, 2018, introduced today in the Ontario Legislature today by Peter Tabuns, MPP, the Environment and Climate Change Critic for the Ontario NDP. West Coast Environmental Law invited BC’s governing NDP Government, and other BC parties, to consider introducing similar legislation in the province.

“Chevron, Shell and other fossil fuel companies can no longer assume that they can profit from products that cause climate change while leaving taxpayers and ordinary Canadians to pay for its impacts,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer. “Ensuring that fossil fuel polluters pay will finally give them an incentive to work towards a sustainable future while allowing our communities to prepare for the climate impacts that are already coming.”

West Coast Environmental Law and the Vanuatu Environmental Law Centre co-published the 2015 report Taking Climate Justice into our own Hands, which highlighted the legal authority of legislators to enact climate compensation laws like the Liability for Climate Harm Act.

“This Bill appears to be the first in the world to directly impose strict liability – liability without proof of fault – on fossil fuel companies for climate impacts,” Gage noted. “While the Ontario legislature may or may not pass this version of the bill, we are confident that it will be the first of many considered, and ultimately enacted, around the world. Governments cannot afford to simply leave massive climate costs to their taxpayers and citizens while letting the companies that have profited most from fossil fuels off the hook.”

Gage noted that communities are increasingly demanding that fossil fuel companies be held responsible for rising climate costs. In BC six local governments have recently written to 20 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies asking that they pay their fair share of climate impacts, while several communities in the U.S., including New York City, have filed lawsuits against many of these same companies. In the Philippines the Human Rights Commission is currently investigating whether corporate fossil fuel polluters have violated the rights of the people of the Philippines.

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For more information, please contact:

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

Anjali Appadurai| Climate Communications Specialist, West Coast Environmental Law Association
604-328-6443, aappadurai@wcel.org

For further background info on WCEL's fossil fuel accountability campaign visit: www.wcel.org/climatelawinourhands