OTTAWA — When news broke this month that Vancouver city officials were considering joining a campaign demanding that oil companies pay for costs associated with climate change, it marked the second time in just a few days that a little-known activist group had stirred up national media attention.
West Coast Environmental Law, an activist organization based in Vancouver, is the architect of a recent campaign in which municipalities write letters to 20 of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, “demanding accountability” for their contribution to climate change.
The campaign received national attention after the mayor of Whistler, B.C. sent letters to a number of major oil companies — including Canadian Natural Resources and the Calgary offices of PetroChina — and called on them to pay their “fair share” of climate-related costs. The letter received a sharp rebuttal from CNRL, which pulled out of an annual energy conference in the small ski resort town. A number of other companies soon followed suit, prompting CIBC to cancel the energy portion of the conference; Whistler mayor Jack Crompton later issued a Facebook message saying he “sincerely regret(s) that anyone felt unwelcome” due to the letter, and that he was simply pointing to the broader costs associated with climate change.