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LETTER: Lawsuit would force Big Oil to address climate impacts


Fossil fuel companies should pay for climate damages to B.C. municipalities. Oregon’s Multnomah County experienced 69 deaths during the 2021 heat dome, and it launched a $50-billion lawsuit against Big Oil. British Columbia had 619 deaths during the heat dome, but no lawsuit yet.

We are increasingly covering costs of fossil fuel-driven climate impacts. In 2021, B.C. floods ranked among the top 10 most expensive climate disasters globally. Merritt alone spent $149 million on cleanup.

To help mitigate these costs, the citizen-led Sue Big Oil campaign urges local councils to create a class-action lawsuit against major fossil fuel companies. In June, the towns of View Royal and Gibsons became the first two local governments to sign on.

Capital Regional District municipalities should have received a letter from View Royal Mayor Sid Tobias encouraging them to also join. Each participating council will pledge $1 per resident to fund the action. When enough people are represented, we’ll start the lawsuit.

Multiple internal oil company documents confirm that companies like Exxon and Shell knew decades ago that their products would drive global warming. Yet, they continue to deceive us about the risks of climate change in order to delay action and collect ballooning profits.

In the U.S., climate lawsuits against Big Oil are widespread, with more than 40 local and state governments suing for a share of the costs they incur. In April and May, the U.S. Supreme Court refused applications by fossil fuel companies to block these cases.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada’s annual reports on insured losses due to extreme weather document that climate-fuelled storms, wildfires, and other disasters already cost billions. IBC estimates that for every $1 in insured losses, there are $3-4 in uninsured losses borne by “government, households, and businesses.”

Lawsuits will offer a strong incentive for fossil fuel corporations to invest their considerable resources in building a sustainable future. In addition to protecting us from accelerating climate costs, suing Big Oil will ensure that government, corporate, and investment decision-makers acknowledge that fossil fuels are a hazardous investment.

Let’s join together to sue Big Oil.

Connie More