Today’s Poll

Op/Ed — Climate Law in Our Hands

By Contributor
July 4th, 2018

Two Kootenay communities have agreed to send letters to the top 20 biggest fossil fuel companies asking them to pay their fair share in local climate costs. This is in line with the Climate Law in Our Hands initiative that is asking local governments all over BC to write letters to the fossil fuel industry to demand accountability.

Throughout the world and here in BC, communities are facing the realities of climate change with an increase in droughts, wildfires and flooding. Dealing with these impacts is costly and these costs are predicted to rise as the wave of climate change grows and spreads. This exponentially growing bill is paid for by the taxpayer. This has lead to many to question, is this fair?

When considering that fossil fuel companies still rake in huge profits despite having known about climate change and the contribution that their product makes towards an increase in greenhouse gases (GHG’s) and having invested huge sums of money in deceiving the public about climate science. It seems that these companies should be held accountable for their role in climate change and paying their fair share in the climate costs that communities all over the world are covering.

It has never been legal to sell a product that harms people and communities. Just like the tobacco industry, for too long profit has has overrun morality in the fossil fuel industry at the risk of our climate, environment and communities.

Growing body of evidence

Carbon Majors Projectand Smoke and Fumes Committee

Revealed research and documents that can be found at Smoke and Fumes tell the story of how and for how long the fossil fuel industry have known about climate change and how they industry collaborated to manipulate the public climate conversation for their own prosperity and longevity of a dirty business.

This proof serves to support the claim that the industry should be held accountable for the rising costs of dealing with climate change that we are now seeing. The question of how much is their fair share lead Richard Heede to investigate…

In 2013 the Carbon Majors Project was launched, the primary focus being to discover how much the fossil fuel industry has contributed to GHG emissions and therefore their level of responsibility with paying for the impacts.

Richard Heede published a study that reveals that there are just 90 entities that collectively are responsible for ⅔ of the worlds GHG’s. It’s not surprising that this is predominantly from the fossil fuel industry.

The results from their research are a foundation by which the conversation about exactly how much each company should pay out can start. You can take a look at the Carbon Majors study here.

BC communities moved to action

With this growing body of evidence, an increase in extreme weather and the assurance that BC has the legal power to demand accountability from fossil fuels (Liability for climate-related Harms Act) the question is, where do we start?

Well, the Climate Law in Our Hands initiative is gathering communities throughout BC to start a new conversation about the responsibility of climate change by asking local governments to write letters to the top 20 fossil fuel companies.

So far, 10 municipalities across BC have agreed to write letters and in April of this year, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities which represents 53 local communities voted to send a letter.

Here in the Kootenays, the City of Castlegar and the Village of Slocan have agreed to write letters and the EcoSociety is working with West Coast Environmental Law to try and encourage other local governments in the Kootenays to do the same.

With an increase in wildfires, drought and floods we know that there will be a rising cost of infrastructure updates here in the Kootenays. The expectation is that these costs will fall entirely on the taxpayer. Considering what we now know this is not fair and not acceptable.

If you are interested in your community joining in the conversation, then write to your local government and let them know that they can participate.

Sarah Colvin is the Community Organizer for the West Kootenay EcoSociety.

Categories: GeneralOp/Ed