British Columbia municipalities, having had a chance to consider litigation strategy, are now saying there are better ways to go.
The North Central Local Governments Association (NCLGA) recently passed a resolution calling for NCLGA and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) to recognize energy producers as “innovation drivers” and partners in efforts to decarbonize the economy instead of attempting to sue them.
Now that the resolution passed NCLGA, there is an opportunity for communities across the province to weigh in on its merits at UBCM in September.
According to Fort Saint John mayor Lori Ackerman, “The resolution should be viewed as the starting point for an ongoing dialogue amongst municipal leaders across the province about how local governments can deal with the threats of climate change.”
The resolution states:
“Therefore be it resolved that the NCLGA and UBCM recognize their role to represent and serve the common needs of all local governments in BC in our diverse, resource-based province and to affirm that decarbonization and reduction of GHG emissions should continue to be an important focus for civic policy-makers, industry, British Columbians and other stakeholders, recognizing the value of BC’s resource sector and its contribution to British Columbian’s quality of life and that British Columbians support the resource sector to continue its work to serve the needs of society while transitioning to a low carbon economy.”
The resolution is the latest in a string of victories across British Columbia for those who reject a strategy imported from litigation-happy American environmental campaigners.
Although no doubt there are those in the resource and energy industries who will be cheered by this development, perhaps most notably it is not industry at all that identified the chance to find more collaborative ways to address climate change.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps recently changed her mind about such litigation, noting that there are “more prudent and more timely approaches” for municipalities to employ to deal with climate.
Two resolutions calling for regional associations of municipalities to explore class-action lawsuits against energy companies were also recently defeated. First was the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities (AVICC), which is the regional association the City of Victoria belongs to.
Helps described the opposition there: “There was a very, very strong lineup at the ‘con’ mic talking about the need to have a more collaborative approach. So I would say overall the message that comes out of the conference is that climate change is really important to the local governments on the Island – that there is urgency.”
The other defeated resolution at the Association of Kootenay & Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) called for, “AKBLG, UBCM and FCM [Federation of Canadian Municipalities] be requested to write a climate accountability letter on behalf of their member group to the top twenty fossil fuel companies outlining the impacts felt by all BC communities and requesting that the companies assist with the financial burden of climate change adaptation and mitigation costs to BC communities.”