Climate Change Impact Should be Considered in Project Reviews

Originally Published in the ECOreport

 Vancouver Harbour, British Columbia – Robert Linsdell, cc by SA 2.0
Vancouver Harbour, British Columbia – Robert Linsdell, cc by SA 2.0

The Canadian Government’s plans to fast track a pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to Greater Vancouver hit an unexpected snag. The City of Vancouver does not want the pipeline, the people of British Columbia do not appear to want it, but the Feds have been able to stack the deck. It is now obvious that Mayor Greg Robertson was right, the National Energy Board (NEB) hearing process “meets no test of meaningful consultation.” Faced with the prospect of a massive increase to the city’s emissions – and a much greater change of there will an oil spill – the City of Vancouver is demanding these economic threats should be included in the NEB Hearing. This could be the start of a new trend, climate change impact should be considered in project reviews  

Press Release from City of Vancouver 

The City of Vancouver filed a motion yesterday with the National Energy Board (NEB) to ensure that the economic impacts of climate change are included in the review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. This move reflects the material risk climate change poses to economic stability as even global insurance companies have begun to factor climate change into their economic risk assessments.

Creative Mornings Vancouver with Mayor Gregor Robertson : Photo Credit – Trevor Jansen, cc by 2.0

Included in the City’s motion is an affidavit from the City’s Chief Risk Officer. The affidavit provides evidence on how the insurance industry evaluates the exposure of businesses to climate change risks and how these costs are increasingly factored in to insurance rates.

“It makes no sense for the NEB to ignore the economic impacts of climate change, while insurance companies around the world are adjusting their business models because of it,” said Mayor Robertson. “Climate change has significant economic costs that cannot be swept aside when evaluating a pipeline project of this magnitude.

“An analysis of the impacts of Kinder Morgan’s proposal for a seven-fold increase in oil tankers in our waters must take into account the full economic impacts of climate change.”

The City’s statement of facts also includes evidence from Mark Jaccard, a professor at Simon Fraser University with a PhD in energy and economics, as well as former Chair and CEO of the BC Utilities Commissions; and global insurer Swiss Re.

Stanley Park Woods – Photo by colink, cc by2.0
Stanley Park Woods – Photo by colink, cc by2.0

Evidence from Dr. Jaccard references that the Trans Mountain project would increase greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million tonnes over a 35-year period.

“The impacts of climate change are real and must be accounted for,” added the Mayor. “The project will increase the drivers of climate change, but it will be the residents and businesses of Vancouver who will pay the cost. A full economic analysis of this pipeline proposal cannot ignore the risks to our overall economy due to climate change.”

The failure to factor in the economic impacts of climate change is just one of the many issues raised by the City of Vancouver as their role of intervenor in the NEB hearings and other actions are being initiated by the City in parallel to this motion being filed.

In response to the frustration of stakeholders who have been unable to participate in the process, a motion was passed on May 14th to develop a series of public engagement events. Launching in June, these events will provide residents, including those who were denied access to the NEB hearings, with a forum to share their opinions on the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal. Kinder Morgan representatives will be invited to participate.

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