Environmental groups applaud Burnaby City Council's vote to sue big oil for climate costs

Burnaby, BC / Unceded Coast Salish Territories – Yesterday evening, Burnaby City Council voted 8-1 to support a class action lawsuit brought by BC local governments against the world’s largest fossil fuel companies. With Lower Mainland municipalities facing billions of dollars in climate change-related expenses, Burnaby is seeking to recover essential resources for BC communities and hold major polluters accountable for their role in climate change. Burnaby is the sixth and largest municipality in BC to pledge its support for the proposed lawsuit, and the first in the Lower Mainland.

While all BC local governments are encouraged to support the proposed lawsuit, the Burnaby resolution specifically calls upon other large municipalities with at least 150,000 residents to join. Those cities are: Abbotsford, Coquitlam, Kelowna, Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver.

“Youth are really worried: climate change is upon us, and it’s getting worse,” said Kate McMahon, Burnaby For Our Kids. “Burnaby is already struggling with the costs of climate change, so we are very glad to see Burnaby joining and challenging other communities to ensure young people and next generations have the resources needed to deal with climate change.”

“Imagine if cities and towns across BC had the resources they needed to help their communities prepare for the escalating impacts of climate change through measures like cooling centres and better flood and fire protection. If the oil and gas companies responsible for causing climate change paid their fair share, places like Burnaby could prepare themselves for heat waves, wildfires, floods, drought, and sea-level rise without burdening taxpayers with the soaring costs of climate change. I’m grateful for the City of Burnaby’s leadership in seeking to recoup a fair share of these costs from the world’s largest polluters,” said Sunil Singal, President of Force of Nature Alliance and Climate Campaigner with Stand.earth.

“Burnaby’s decision to join Sue Big Oil is incredibly important and fiscally responsible. British Columbians in both large and small communities should ask their elected officials: Why won’t you join Burnaby and protect us from the rising costs of climate change by holding the world’s largest polluters accountable?” said Fiona Koza, Climate Accountability Strategist at West Coast Environmental Law. “With limited resources, BC’s local governments are increasingly overwhelmed by the costs of climate change. Yet the oil industry is making billions of dollars a day in profit. It is absurd that BC communities must pay the price of climate disasters while Big Oil gets off scot-free.”

Burnaby joins Squamish, Gibsons, View Royal, Slocan and Qualicum Beach, as the six BC municipalities that have committed to allocate $1 per resident and work with other local governments to bring a class action lawsuit. In the U.S. there are 70 local and state governments bringing similar litigation, including Chicago and California.

Burnaby Council received over 100 letters, including many from children, and over 500 Burnaby residents have signed a Declaration in support of suing Big Oil for a fair share of climate costs.

“I decided to join the Sue Big Oil campaign when I first realized that big oil companies weren’t paying their fair share of the costs of climate change. I knew that it wasn’t right for them not to own up to their actions. I encouraged my friends in school to write letters describing how climate change has affected them,” said Idhant, a Grade 4 student at Capitol Hill school in Burnaby.

Over 10,000 people in BC support the campaign to Sue Big Oil. To join, BC residents may sign the Sue Big Oil Declaration at www.suebigoil.ca/declaration.

The Sue Big Oil campaign has been endorsed by over 40 organizations in BC. Burnaby For Our Kids, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion, Council of Canadians, Dogwood, Force of Nature Alliance, Georgia Strait Alliance, LeadNow, Stand.earth, West Coast Environmental Law and Wilderness Committee all applaud Burnaby Council’s leadership.



Fiona Koza , Climate Accountability Strategist, West Coast Environmental Law
604-684-7378, ext. 236, fkoza@wcel.org

Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law
604-601-2506, agage@wcel.org  

Kate McMahon, Team Lead, Burnaby For Our Kids
778-987-4127, burnaby@forourkids.ca

Sunil Singal, President, Force of Nature Alliance & Climate Campaigner, Stand.earth
604-368-3536, sunil@forceofnaturealliance.ca