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Saanich to call out fossil fuel companies for local climate costs

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

VICTORIA, BC – Last night the Council of the District of Saanich voted unanimously (7-0) to send a “Climate Accountability Letter” to 20 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies, asking the companies to pay their share of the municipality’s climate costs.

Saanich, with a population of over 110,000, will be the second municipality in the world to send a letter of this type, after the nearby (and smaller) District of Highlands sent a Climate Accountability Letter in early July. Saanich’s Environment and Natural Areas Advisory Committee, after a robust discussion and a 6-1 vote, had recommended that the District send the letter.

“Saanich is sending a strong message to the world’s fossil fuel companies,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Counsel and head of West Coast’s Climate Law in our Hands initiative. “The community is making it clear that it will no longer simply pay for the ever-increasing costs of climate change – of drought, of sea-level rise – without asking an industry that has made hundreds of billions of dollars from selling the products that cause climate change to pay its fair share.”

Saanich Council instructed staff to draft a letter that reflects the community's own experiences of climate change. The list of 20 companies that will receive the letter includes oil giants such as Chevron, Exxon and Shell. 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.

“Everyone should be concerned by the rising tide of climate costs facing our communities. From flooding to wildfires, we can’t just assume that taxpayers will always pay,” said Anjali Appadurai, Climate Law in our Hands Campaigner. “Communities everywhere must follow Saanich and Highlands in questioning the right of fossil fuel companies to make hundreds of billions of dollars extracting oil, gas and coal without also taking responsibility for the harm caused by those products.”

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.

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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.