Richmond city urged to hold oil firms accountable

A non-profit environmental advocacy group will ask Richmond council next week to push for provincial legislation to hold oil companies accountable for carbon emissions.

A proposed law in Ontario, which was eventually defeated by the Conservative government there, would have held oil companies liable for some climate-related harms, and West Coast Environmental Law is hoping Richmond council will ask the B.C. government to create a similar law.

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The non-profit is also asking council to write directly to 20 oil companies that are responsible for the most emissions globally, telling them that Richmond expects them to pay a “fair share” of the costs.

A 2012 report by the provincial government states that Richmond faces costs up to $3.9 billion just to combat the rise of sea levels.

Gordon Cornwall, a volunteer with West Coast Environmental Law, will lead the delegation and present the requests to Richmond city council on Monday. The two requests are part of the group’s “Climate Law in Our Hands” campaign. The request is not for Richmond to take part in any lawsuit, Cornwall explained.

“Climate Liability legislation would merely strengthen Richmond’s hand, legally, if it ever did come to legal action, which would probably be undertaken jointly with other local governments,” Cornwall said in an email.

Cornwall pointed out that municipalities are often the first level of government that has to pay when damage comes as a result of climate change, for example, wildfires, floods and higher sea levels.



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