Today's media conference introducing Bill 21. (L-r) Greenpeace Canada Senior Energy Strategist Keith Stewart, MPP Peter Tabuns, Greenpeace Canada Litigation Counsel Kristin Casper.
Ontario New Democratic Party Member of Provincial Parliament Peter Tabuns has introduced Bill 21, the Liability for Climate-Related Harms Act, 2018.
This is welcome news just days after the Federal Court of Appeal declined to hear an appeal of a National Energy Board ruling that allows Texas-based Kinder Morgan to seek construction permits for their 890,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain bitumen pipeline directly from the federal regulator rather than through the established process of local building permits being issued by municipalities.
The preamble to Bill 21 states, "Enhanced legal tools are required so that governments, businesses and individuals can ensure that coal, oil and gas producers contribute their fair share to paying for the harms to which their products contribute and for the necessary steps to prevent future harms."
Tabuns, the party's environment and climate change critic, says, "The world’s largest fossil fuel corporations have to start paying their fair share of the damages that are going to be inflicted by climate change and they also have to pay for the steps necessary to protect people from those climate damages."
Greenpeace Canada and the West Coast Environmental Law Association have already endorsed the bill.
Climate Liability News notes, "Municipalities in the United States from New York City to California have filed climate-related suits against fossil fuel companies. Additionally, 21 young people are suing the U.S. government in the landmark case Juliana v. United States for violating their right to a safe and livable climate. Related legal actions are taking place in Ireland, Peru and the Philippines."
This Alternatives Journal article adds, "New York City became the latest government to announce it was suing five major oil producers for billions to cover the infrastructure costs associated with preparing the city for a warmer future. Mayor Bill de Blasio also indicated his city’s pension fund would divest itself of $5 billion in fossil fuel holdings."
At today's media conference Greenpeace litigation counsel Kristen Casper referenced West Coast Environmental Law Association's campaign which has highlighted, "Recent polling shows that 75 per cent of BC residents strongly or somewhat support their local government sending a legal letter to fossil fuel companies demanding that they pay a share of the local financial costs of climate change."
In October 2017, Victoria city council voted to send a 'Climate Accountability Letter' to twenty of the world's largest fossil fuel companies asking them to pay their share of the municipality's climate costs. At that time, WCEL campaigner Anjali Appadurai stated, "This letter is a powerful legal and symbolic message to the fossil fuel industry. It sets the stage for other municipalities to take this type of action, to demand a fair share of the costs they are already incurring due to climate change."
The Council of Canadians Victoria chapter has been particularly supportive of this WCEL municipal resolution campaign.
A 15-minute video of today's media conference can be seen here. For a media release about the legislation, please click here. A short video of Tabuns introducing the bill in the Legislature can be seen here.
Bill 21 was carried in its First Reading today.