The District of West Vancouver voted Monday night to become the latest municipality to endorse the call for a global Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The council voted almost unanimously to pass the motion, only with Coun. Sharon Thompson against, with some councillors acknowledging the motion was an act of symbolism, but a precursor to further tangible action in its fight against the climate crisis.
The motion makes mention of the latest International Panel on Climate Change which confirmed that without “radical reductions” in carbon emissions this decade, world temperature rises above 1.5℃ would be inevitable and “irreversible.”
The cities of Vancouver, Toronto, Barcelona, Sydney and Los Angeles have previously endorsed the calls for a global treaty, with Naomi Klein, David Suzuki and more than 150,000 individuals joining them.
Tabled by Couns. Nora Gambioli and Bill Soprovich, the motion mentioned the effects that the climate crisis is directly having on the district of West Van, with its clear pattern of hotter and drier summers, along with increased exposure to wildfire smoke.
“As we know, changes to the district of West Vancouver's climate are already being felt. We have declared a climate emergency, as a council, and we have recognized that it is the urgent responsibility, and moral obligation, of wealthy fossil fuel producers to lead and put an end to fossil fuel development,” Gambioli said while presenting the motion.
When explaining why he supported the motion, Soprovich noted the cost of inaction against climate change far outweighs the true cost of acting. But more pressingly, he considered what his children and grandchildren would say if he didn’t vote in favour of motions against the climate crisis.
“I have two grandchildren, they're 18 and 19, and a son, 23 ... ‘Oh Dad, you've been on council, a leader in West Vancouver for a number of years, [and] you did nothing!’” he said.
In voting against the motion, Coun. Thompson posed the question to council of whether fossil fuel companies are the “sole cause of climate change,” and whether a motion like this directly helps protect the community against climate change.
“What we've realized out in the [Fraser] Valley, and through our highway system, is that we've isolated a lot of communities, and we know on the North Shore, we are very vulnerable to that, and I'd like to see us paying more attention to food security, and waterfront owners being able to use the water as an escape, or a route to receive materials,” Thompson said.
When weighing up whether she would vote in favour of the motion, Thompson said she would ask herself, “What can we do that is really worth our time and really makes a difference.”
Council also heard from six West Vancouver residents who were all forthright in their desire to see the district adopt the motion.
Author of British Columbia in Flames, Claudia Cornwall said if West Van was serious about fighting climate change, “we must stop expanding the oil industry and we should join other governments in endorsing the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Cornwall said clean energy jobs already exist, and now employ more people than the gas and oil sector.
“We need to pivot away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible,” she said.