VANCOUVER/Musqueam, Squamish & Tsleil-Waututh Territories – On Tuesday, July 19, the City of Vancouver is set to consider a motion to fund a class action lawsuit by local governments against global oil and gas companies for their role in causing climate change and the resulting local costs.
Motion B2, put forward by City Councillor Adriane Carr following the launch of the Sue Big Oil campaign, proposes setting aside $1 per resident (over $662,000) in a fund to allow it and other local governments to bring a class action lawsuit against fossil fuel companies for a share of local government climate costs. With Vancouver expected to spend $1 billion in coming years to address rising sea levels fueled by climate change, the measure could help protect local residents from future tax increases, while forcing fossil fuel companies to record climate costs on their balance sheets.
“Vancouver taxpayers simply cannot afford to pay the full costs that climate change will impose on the city, and that are already being experienced now. From the costs of preventing future heat wave deaths, to protecting our neighbourhoods from flooding and replanting trees after drought – these and other climate-related costs must be shared by the corporations who have profited most from the crisis,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer.
Vancouver and other municipalities in BC are increasingly recognizing what climate change could end up costing them, particularly after the extreme heat, wildfires and catastrophic flooding that occurred in 2021. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates that Canadian local governments should collectively spend $5.3 billion each year to prepare for climate impacts.
“It’s not right for Vancouver taxpayers to continue paying 100% of the costs to protect residents from climate impacts, while oil giants like Shell, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and others pocket billions of dollars in profits. Major global polluters must start to pay their fair share for the damage they’re causing,” said Gage.
“All of BC’s elected officials need to consider how we’re going to afford to keep our communities safe from the massive impacts of climate change. The fiscally and climate responsible solution is for our local governments to work together to Sue Big Oil,” said Gage. “The fossil fuel industry has known for decades that selling their products would cause climate change, and chose to lobby against and delay climate action by all means possible. As long as taxpayers pay for the costs of fossil fuel pollution, the industry will have every incentive to keep up this behaviour.”
The Sue Big Oil Campaign is a coalition of BC organizations and individuals who are calling on BC’s local governments to file a class action lawsuit against global fossil fuel companies. It is a “home-grown” effort launched to ensure BC taxpayers are not on the hook for climate harms caused by the fossil fuel industry. Similar lawsuits have been filed in the Switzerland, Germany and the U.S., and a lawsuit against Shell in the Netherlands was successful last year. Contrary to recent media reports, West Coast Environmental Law has no expectation that it will be paid by local governments or profit from the case.
For more information, please contact:
Andrew Gage | Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law