A new poll finds North Shore residents aren’t keen on the plan for municipalities to sue oil companies for climate change damages, as the City of Vancouver now plans to do. It’s a divisive issue.
It’s true, our infrastructure is already taking a very expensive beating thanks to the climate crisis. And we have every reason to believe things will get worse before they get better.
But there’s also a very large risk of this lawsuit becoming a big waste of money if the case fails on its merits in court. No matter the outcome, we predict it will spend years going through appeals.
At worst, it could prove to be a costly distraction from the much larger struggle we must face – learning to live without carbon. The fight against climate change cannot be won in a courtroom. It can only come from the policies that are enacted by our Parliament, legislatures and municipal councils.
There are regulatory approaches like mandating an end to the sale of internal combustion vehicles and requiring higher efficiency buildings. There are large-scale measures like unplugging our power grids from fossil fuels. There are incentives to encourage wider adoption of energy retrofits. There is more research and development that industry must do to clean up its own act. And there are planning approaches like concentrating our growing population within more efficient communities.
These are areas where our local councils are already failing to do the utmost, especially in the North Shore's two district municipalities.
If we cannot accept these incremental changes in our way of living, we have no choice but to face ones that are far more ominous.
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