VICTORIA, BC – Last night the City of Victoria voted nearly unanimously 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.
The provincial capital is the third municipality in the world to send a letter of this type, following two other Vancouver Island communities (the Districts of Highlands and Saanich). The motion also included an agreement to call upon fellow local governments across Vancouver Island, British Columbia and Canada to write similar letters.
“This letter is a powerful legal and symbolic message to the fossil fuel industry. It sets the stage for other municipalities to take this type of action, to demand a fair share of the costs they are already incurring due to climate change,” said Anjali Appadurai, Climate Law in our Hands Campaigner with West Coast. “Victoria has sent a clear sign that its residents do not want to bear the burden of climate change costs alone – not when the industry continues to operate without paying its fair share.”
The letter will be sent to a list of twenty companies, including oil industry giants like Exxon, Chevron and Shell. Fossil fuel pollution caused by the operations and products of these 20 companies constitutes almost 30% of human-caused greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere today, Appadurai noted.
“Community members, especially marginalized populations, are currently paying for the full costs of climate change planning and damages. This isn’t our responsibility to bear alone. It’s time to start asking the tough questions about who should be shouldering the burden of climate costs,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Counsel.
Recent polling shows that 75% of BC residents strongly or somewhat support their local government sending a legal letter to fossil fuel companies demanding that they pay a share of the local financial costs of climate change.
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 lawsuit against fossil fuel companies for a portion of their climate costs, similar to those filed recently by several California municipalities, including San Francisco and Oakland.
The poll question is part of a broader online study conducted by Justason Market Intelligence Inc. on attitudes to climate change to be released at a later date. In total, 654 British Columbians were polled. An unweighted probability sample of 654 carries a margin of error of +/- 3.8 at the 95% confidence level.
For more information, please contact:
Anjali Appadurai, Campaigner | West Coast Environmental Law
Andrew Gage, Staff Counsel | West Coast Environmental Law
To learn more about Climate Law in our Hands, see http://www.wcel.org/climatelawinourhands.