Illustration courtesy of Easy Science for Kids
Courtenay urged to send climate accountability letter
The most recent Courtenay City Council meeting, held on Jan. 28, found
Andrew Gage, an attorney with West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL), on the agenda.
Introduced to the Council by Kelly Matthews, representing the Dogwood BC, Gage suggested that Courtenay join with other municipalities in sending a Climate Accountability Letter to the 20 fossil fuel companies most responsible for global warming. Such a letter sent by Courtenay “would start an important conversation” which serves as a preamble to possible litigation in the future, according to Gage.
Gage noted that climate costs, such as those related to fires, fire suppression, droughts, and coastal erosion due to sea level rise, as well as the building of climate resilient communities are chiefly borne by local taxpayers and municipalities. WCEL believes that it’s time that climate adaptation and damage costs are shared by the companies that have made money hand-over-fist while helping to create a global climate catastrophe.
After Gage’s brief presentation, he fielded questions from City Councillors. Doug Hillian cited concern about oil company push-back. Gage responded that the WCEL’s focus is on large global oil producers which do not include smaller local players such as most of those active in Canada.
Will Cole-Hamilton wondered what kind of response other municipalities had received from oil companies which had been sent the letter. According to Gage, only about three or four of the oil companies have responded by citing their acceptance of the science demonstrating global warming, but everyone had also managed to “duck their responsibility.” However, Gage noted that Chevron had disclosed to its shareholders the “realistic risk” fossil fuel extraction presents and that Shell had pointed out in its response that the company has made a $2 billion-dollar commitment to green renewables.
Action on Gage’s suggestion that Courtenay write its own Accountability Letter is deferred pending staff research until the next Council meeting.
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I feel so sad when I read comments like Mr. MacKenzie’s “What a dumb idea” or “Absolutely ridiculous” in response to an article on this very issue in the Times Colonist from yesterday. The schoolyard bully tactics of calling anyone who challenges you some variation of stupid or – if that challenger is female – saying she’s ugly or deserves to be raped or some of the myriad other insults, never seem to go out of fashion. If Mr. MacKenzie has some other solution to help our municipalities pay for the climate consequences of global warming many are already experiencing, perhaps he could present those to Council. If Mr. MacKenzie thinks it is fair that companies global in scale can reap the profits of their ruinous activities and leave it to taxpayers everywhere to pay for the clean-up afterwards, then he has no right to complain when our municipalities have to raise our taxes to deal with forest fires or floods. The reality is that SOMEONE is going to have to pay for dealing with the consequences of global warming. Why shouldn’t it be the billionaires of the world who are taking all those profits out of our countries and storing them in some offshore bank? People like the Comox Valley Taxpayers Association lobby against municipal taxes at election time while the costs of climate mitigation will skyrocket. I fail to see how it is in any way unreasonable to expect the companies who take the profits to have to pay the costs of their activities incurred by citizens and communities.
What a dumb idea. Why not sue Ford, Chevy and the like. Get real.
I think that in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling that resource companies must pay for environmental remediation of contaminated sites, before they pay creditors and stockholders, the time is right for municipalities to demand accountability. Before this ruling I had doubts, but now that the principalof “polluter pays first” is firmly entrenched in Canadian law, there is a strong incentive to move to clean energy. As a Courtenay taxpayer, I heartily support this progressive proposal.