VANCOUVER, Feb. 21, 2019 /CNW/ - Today Resource Works released a policy brief delving into a new tactic environmental organizations are pressuring municipal governments to use – issuing letters and launching legal action against energy companies demanding they pay for the impacts of climate change.
The tactic received national attention when the Resort Municipality of Whistler sent a letter to Alberta company Canadian National Resources Limited (CNRL) asking that the company pay the town damages for the impacts of climate change. Whistler's letter caused immediate backlash, prompting organizations to cancel planned conferences in the resort.
"Looking deeper into this emerging tactic, what became clear is that it has already been tried and failed in the U.S., leaving behind a lot of expensive legal bills and damage without accomplishing its goals," said Stewart Muir, the brief's author and Executive Director of the Resource Works Society. "Now is not the time to adopt a failed legal tactic that was pioneered elsewhere and attempt to replicate it in Canada. This brief shows how these lawsuits are an improper use of the court system for dealing with such a complex and global issue."
Read the report here: https://www.resourceworks.com/true-cost.
Resource Works is providing B.C. municipalities with the brief to help inform their decisions when approached by environmental organizations about the tactic.
The brief outlines the potential costs of this campaign to municipalities and Canada as a whole, while detailing the failures of climate liability lawsuits waged by municipalities in the United States.
The brief concludes that the climate liability campaign is only creating further division on an already polarizing topic that can only be addressed through collaboration, while diverting municipal taxpayer dollars and staff resources away from areas where B.C. municipalities can make significant headway to decrease their own greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in favour of paying for lawsuits.
"The best way for Canada to lead on climate change is to encourage companies who operate here to continue to do so, while adhering to stringent, modern regulations," Muir continued. "To meet existing legislative and societal expectations, companies operating in Canada must already innovate to further decrease our carbon footprint, while safeguarding Canadian jobs and keeping energy affordable. If B.C. municipalities move forward with these suits they will send a signal that Canada is closed for business, which is a loss for the global environment and the province."
Resource Works shared the brief and got reactions from local officials and leaders in Fort Saint John ahead of a February 25 vote on a resolution to oppose the climate liability campaign.
"This report lays out some of the main concerns that I have had regarding the climate liability campaign, which led me to introduce a resolution which would show Fort Saint John's opposition to this campaign," said Trevor Bolin, a municipal councilor for Fort Saint John, B.C. "I hope this report will serve as a resource for local officials across the province as they consider voting for any letters, resolutions or class action lawsuits against fossil fuel companies."
Lori Ackerman, Mayor of Fort Saint John, seconded support for the brief. "As I have already stated, as the mayor of B.C.'s energy capital, I am interested in solutions instead of playing the blame game on this issue," she said." That is why the timing of this report couldn't have been better. I hope my colleagues read it to understand why this is the wrong approach for B.C."
Mike Whalley, the Executive Director of the Resource Municipalities Coalition also voiced his support for the policy brief, "This document will counter some of the misinformation spinning around out there regarding this climate liability campaign. Proponents claim that this campaign will force fossil fuel companies to pay for costs associated with climate change, but the reality is that the taxpayers and Canadian oil and gas workers will end up footing the bill."
SOURCE Resource Works Society
For further information: Shawn Hall, Apogee Public Relations, 604-619-7913, [email protected]