On October 15th we need to elect climate leaders in BC’s local government elections – leaders willing to grapple with the challenges of how to keep our communities safe from climate change.
We’re relying on you to raise these important questions with the candidates in the election. It’s crucial that those elected know that their constituents want real action on climate change – including making sure that climate costs are shared with the fossil fuel industry that has profited so much from causing those costs.
The election period is when you have an opportunity to speak with candidates about what matters to you. Make sure that they hear from you that you support strong climate action, including pursuing a class action lawsuit with other local governments so that your community doesn’t need to pay 100% of the current and future costs of dealing with climate change. You can:
Meet, call or email your local candidates
Ask them to sign the Candidates’ Pledge to Sue Big Oil and to include Sue Big Oil in their election platform. Candidates who might be interested should read the Sue Big Oil Candidate Backgrounder and can contact us at email@example.com if they need more information.
Not sure who your local candidates are? Most municipal websites will have a list of who is running, but CivicInfoBC has compiled an unofficial cross-province list here. Most listings include emails and sometimes phone numbers or social media handles.
Ask questions publicly
Show up at All Candidates Meetings noting that climate change is costing your community and ask what the candidates will do to ensure that taxpayers don’t pay all of those costs. See if you can find local examples of costs, but if you can’t you can always refer to the recent study by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Insurance Bureau of Canada that says that Canadian local governments will collectively face costs totalling $5.3 billion EACH YEAR to prepare for climate change.
Some possible questions (feel free to adapt) include:
- “After the Heat Dome, wildfires and floods last year, no one can doubt that climate change is costing BC communities. Right now taxpayers are on the hook for 100% of those costs. But recently the City of Vancouver set aside $1 per resident towards a joint lawsuit with other BC local governments to recover a fair share of those costs from global oil and gas companies like Chevron and Exxon. How will you protect taxpayers from having to pay all of the costs of climate change and does your plan include working with Vancouver and the Sue Big Oil campaign?”
- “In a recent poll by Stratcom, 69% of British Columbians strongly or somewhat supported their local governments working together to sue global fossil fuel companies for a share of the costs of climate change, rather than leaving us – the taxpayer – paying 100% of those costs. What is your position on a lawsuit to recover some of the costs that we face as a community from climate change?”
- “Scientists from Shell and Chevron in the 1980s and 90s predicted that our communities would face heat waves, wildfires and flooding due to climate change, but instead of taking action they decided to lobby against climate action so that they could make more money. What will you do to ensure that these global companies pay a fair share of the costs that their business decisions caused? Specifically, will you set aside $1 per resident and then work with the City of Vancouver and other local governments that are taking similar action to hold global fossil fuel companies accountable?”
Don’t forget the digital door-knocking! Get local candidates’ attention by reaching out to them on social media to ask them questions about how they plan to protect us from climate change and its costs. In addition to tagging your candidates, please include the hashtag #SueBigOil. If you are able to record the answers, or take notes, you can send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The important thing is that candidates have to answer questions like these.
Support climate leaders
We’ve asked all candidates for which an email was available where they stand on the Sue Big Oil Pledge. We intend to publish the results in early October. [Update October 7th – Click here for the Candidate Responses]
We hope that this will be one source of information as you evaluate the climate platforms of candidates and determine for yourself which are climate leaders.
Learn more at our webinar next week
Not sure how to talk to local candidates in your community? Join us for a special Q&A on Wednesday, September 28th and we’ll go over the ins and outs of Sue Big Oil’s winnable legal strategy, and answer any questions you might have about engaging with candidates during the election period, and beyond.
And, of course, many candidates may actually be knocking at your door, so be sure to talk to them about Sue Big Oil and why your local government should join the movement. If a candidate makes a commitment to you, let us know so we can follow up with them.
We know how much is at stake this election, so please make sure to vote for climate leaders this election.
By: Andrew Gage and Fiona Koza
Sue Big Oil Secretariat, West Coast Environmental Law