Cal­gary en­ergy firm asked to pay cli­mate costs in B.C.

Whistler pArt of CAm­pAign seek­ing ‘AC­Count­ABil­ity’ of gloBAl pro­duC­ers

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - RYAN RUM­BOLT

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Whistler, B.C., is ask­ing the oil and gas in­dus­try to pay its “fair share” by chip­ping in for bud­get costs re­lated to cli­mate change.

In a let­ter ad­dressed to Cal­gar­y­based Cana­dian Nat­u­ral Re­sources Ltd. dated Nov. 15, Whistler Mayor Jack Cromp­ton said the town’s tax­pay­ers “are pay­ing 100 per cent of the costs” as­so­ci­ated with cli­mate change events such as “drought, flood­ing, and ex­treme weather.”

He’s ask­ing CNRL to pay in to “the costs of cli­mate change be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by Whistler,” in­clud­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ “$1.4 mil­lion in­vest­ment in com­mu­nity wild­fire pro­tec­tion ac­tiv­i­ties” for 2018.

“As a town with a pop­u­la­tion of less than 15,000 peo­ple, this is a sig­nif­i­cant cost to bear along with costs as­so­ci­ated with im­pacts to win­ter and sum­mer sports tourism,” he said in the let­ter.

The re­quest is part of a cam­paign by West Coast En­vi­ron­men­tal Law and the Union of British Co­lum­bia Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties “de­mand­ing ac­count­abil­ity from fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies,” the cam­paign web­site reads.

More than a dozen B.C. mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties dat­ing back to 2017 have sent sim­i­lar let­ters to en­ergy com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing an open let­ter from the Dis­trict of West Van­cou­ver.

CNRL was the only Cana­dian com­pany to re­ceive the Whistler let­ter, but sim­i­lar re­quests for fund­ing from the re­sort were sent to 19 in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­ers, in­clud­ing British Pe­tro­leum, ExxonMo­bil, ConoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell and Devon En­ergy.

A draft of the let­ter was penned by the re­sort’s out­go­ing coun­cil be­fore a mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion on Oct. 20.

Cromp­ton said he ac­knowl­edges Whistler “ben­e­fits greatly” from tourism dol­lars from the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try, say­ing Whistler is not ig­nor­ing its own role in cli­mate change but rather en­cour­ag­ing “ac­tion on cli­mate change.”

“Our goal was to draw at­ten­tion to cli­mate change. In no way was our aim to cause any­one to feel un­wel­come in Whistler,” he said in a state­ment.

Tris­tan Goodman, pres­i­dent of the Ex­plor­ers and Pro­duc­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada, said he un­der­stands the is­sues be­ing raised around cli­mate change, but added sin­gling out com­pa­nies over a global prob­lem doesn’t seem log­i­cal.

He said the let­ters will likely ran­kle peo­ple who rely on the en­ergy sec­tor and even urged trav­ellers to “re­con­sider their ac­tiv­i­ties and par­tic­i­pa­tion in re­sorts” who have signed on to the cam­paign.

“We have to re­mem­ber most

In no way was our aim to cause any­one to feel un­wel­come in Whistler.

of Whistler’s clients are ac­tu­ally driv­ing or com­ing (there) us­ing fos­sil fu­els … They might want to con­sider their cus­tomer base as they move for­ward,” Goodman said.

Prasad Panda, UCP en­ergy shadow min­is­ter and MLA for Cal­gary Foothills, said any agree­ments on pri­vate sec­tor cli­mate change fund­ing “is be­tween the com­pa­nies and the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.”

“If they come to an agree­ment mu­tu­ally … ben­e­fi­cial to those com­mu­ni­ties and the com­pa­nies’ bal­ance sheets are strong enough to sup­port that, that’s be­tween them,” Panda said.

CNRL de­clined to com­ment on the let­ter when reached Wednes­day night.

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