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Councillor wants Vancouver to set aside money in its budget to 'sue big oil'

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A Vancouver councillor wants the city to consider budgeting one dollar per resident to support a class action lawsuit against fossil fuel companies.

The motion being brought by Coun. Adrienne Carr calls for a financial contribution to a recently launched campaign called Sue Big Oil, which calls on municipalities to set aside this amount to fund legal action to recover the costs of climate change.

"As evidenced by the local 2021 heat dome, atmospheric river, polar vortex and a storm-driven king tide, the costs to repair damage resulting from climate change events are enormous," the motion reads.

According to the 2021 census, Vancouver's population was 662,248 while the 2022 operating budget was $1.47 billion. Using those numbers, the maximum amount Carr is requesting would represent roughly 0.04 percent of the budget.

The campaign is an initiative of West Coast Environmental Law.

“The heat dome killed 600 people, wildfires burnt whole communities down, flooding cost billions of dollars – our communities saw last year just how much climate change costs us,” staff lawyer Andrew Gage wrote when announcing the campaign's launch.

"But none of those costs appear on the balance sheets of the huge fossil fuel companies most responsible for causing climate change. Sue Big Oil aims to make Chevron, Shell, BP and other global companies pay their fair share.”

The move would be a first in Canada, but there is a possible precedent. Last year a Dutch court ruled Shell must slash its emissions harder and faster than planned, a ruling considered to be a landmark win for activists turning to courts to force climate action.Council will consider the motion Tuesday.

According to the campaign's website, Vancouver is the first municipality to answer the call to make this kind of financial commitment.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Alissa Thibault

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