Mayor Walt Cobb (Angie Mindus photo)

OPINION: Climate liability campaign is hypocrisy at its finest

Natural resource communities need to band together so we don’t revert back to the 90s

By Walt Cobb

It is very disconcerting to see a growing number of community councils around B.C. gullibly agree to support an environmental group’s faulty campaign to demand money from a handful of energy companies for their climate impact to the community.

This climate liability campaign is being spearheaded by the West Coast Environmental Law Centre and is targeting B.C. green-leaning communities, especially those in southern B.C. and Vancouver Island. Places with hardcore green councils, like Victoria, enthusiastically signed up for this financial shakedown campaign to appease their progressive voters. This is in spite of benefiting from a large tourism sector totally reliant on fossil fuels to power their cruise ships, ferries, float planes, and other modes of travel.

If that hypocrisy wasn’t enough, Victoria is infamous for dumping raw sewage out into the ocean. The very same habitat for endangered southern resident orcas.

Another community recently joining in on the collective virtue signalling is North Vancouver with its extensive port, railway, and shipping facilities. All these activities and their benefits flow from the use of fossil fuels. The Port of Vancouver wouldn’t operate without fossil fuels.

Read More: Local leaders continue to apply pressure to keep Atlantic Power open

To top it off, the resort municipality of Whistler also joined in the virtue signaling exercise over the holidays and paid a steep price. The negative reaction to Whistler’s climate shakedown letter to energy company CNRL was quick and direct. Not only did Whistler’s brand suffer, but businesses were affected by energy companies cancelling a planned conference in the village to show their displeasure with the mayor and council. Energy workers vowed to never vacation at the resort again, which highlights the danger councils face when veering from core responsibilities.

As a resource-based community, where most of our residents are not only highly dependent on oil and gas to access their job, but to operate the machinery of that job, I have to say this is just another ploy by the West Coast Environmental Law group to scam the masses and raise funds to fight their cause.

Our constituency needs those energy products and we are already paying a high price in various taxes.

The climate liability campaigners want to add more costs to users and taxpaying citizens in an effort that might take decades to get through the courts with very little chance of success.

And in the end, if it was successful, winning would only increase the overall cost for a product we all rely on as producers would surely just download the costs onto consumers.

Even worse, if the case is lost, then the taxpayers of those communities will be on the hook for huge legal costs and possibly damages. These funds could have been better spent on various mitigation efforts in the first place rather than specious lawsuits.

I for one, not only, do not support these actions but will become active in encouraging every resource-based community to refrain from participating in activities or events in the communities signing onto the class action suit.

This is a prime example of what my mom would call an effort in cutting off your nose to spite your face.

More recently the Sierra Club of B. C. is now suggesting that our B.C. forests are causing more carbon emissions than producing so is this lawsuit just a beginning to shutting down all the industries that keep our great country from becoming a second world country.

What’s next? It’s time for the natural resource communities to band together so we don’t revert back to the 90s.

Walt Cobb is the mayor of Williams Lake.


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