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Environment group seeking to 'sue big oil' to address Port Moody council

Port Moody is spending millions of dollars to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the impacts of climate change.
Extreme weather events like atmospheric rivers have been made worse by climate change, leading to consequences like damaging tides that cost cities money, says an environmental group trying to raise support for a class action lawsuit against fossil fuel corporations.

An environmental group looking for support for a class-action lawsuit against fossil fuel companies will get a chance to speak to Port Moody councillors at their next meeting.

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, council unanimously voted to allow representatives from the Force of Nature Alliance — Tri-Cities to appear as a delegation Feb. 13.

The group is hoping to gain support from Port Moody and other municipalities across B.C. for the lawsuit that seeks damages from the oil corporations to help cover costs related to climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

But its application to appear before council Jan. 23 was denied by city manager Tim Savoie who said Port Moody has a policy that doesn’t allow delegations to speak on issues that council doesn’t have jurisdiction to address unless requested by a councillor and supported by a majority of their colleagues.

Coun. Haven Lurbiecki, who submitted just such a request on Force of Nature’s behalf, said council absolutely has jurisdiction to deal with the impacts of climate change on the city.

In fact, she added, the city has committed millions of dollars to help it become more resilient to extreme weather events like heat domes and atmospheric rivers as well as reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions to lessen its contribution to climate change.


“We need not look beyond our own climate change budget,” Lurbiecki said.

Coun. Amy Lubik agreed.

“It’s costing cities so much to deal with the consequences of climate change,” she said, adding council often discusses motions and resolutions about issues that go beyond Port Moody’s borders.

Force of Nature’s Benjamin Perry, who organized a rally for support outside city hall prior to Tuesday’s meeting, said it’s important oil companies help pay for the damages caused by climate change.

“The world’s largest fossil fuel companies have worked tirelessly to prevent climate action and have made massive profits as a result,” he said.

Force of Nature is one of several environmental groups championing the class action suit that’s being stewarded by West Coast Environmental Law.

“Passing climate costs onto residents without taking basic steps to recover them from the companies that have profited most from causing climate change would be financially reckless,” said Andrew Gage, one of the firm’s staff lawyers.

Three municipalities — Gibsons, the District of Squamish and View Royal — have already agreed to be parties to the class action, which requires them to commit funding of one dollar per resident.

Several large American cities, counties and even states like California and Minnesota have also filed similar lawsuits.