B.C. cities seek to end oily investments

UBCM vote calls for alternative, despite challenges

Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt speaks to resolution on fossil fuel-free investing at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

B.C. mayors and councillors voted Thursday to push for an ability to channel their cities’ investments into fossil fuel-free funds to fit their commitments to climate action.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the aim is to create a new option for cities that want socially responsible investments, but without forcing others to make the same choice.

“If a council so chooses to go ahead and use the finances at their disposal to support the energy systems of the last century they can by all means do so,” Sechelt Coun. Noel Muller said. “But for those of us who wish to move ahead with it we want that option.”

The Municipal Finance Authority of B.C. is the central financing agency for municipalities and regional districts.

It’s studied the idea of divestment from fossil fuels but has so far concluded it would run the risk of generating inferior returns at greater risk from taxpayer dollars.

“It’s complicated, it isn’t as easy as some people think,” said Cariboo Regional District board chair Al Richmond.

He noted other public sector organizations, including universities, have also explored the idea of fossil fuel divestment in recent years but have backed away from it after careful consideration.

Richmond said fossil fuel-free investing may be more viable in equity funds, but MFA hasn’t found another public sector organization in the world that has implemented it in the fixed-income investments that municipalities are required to use.

MFA is required to act in the best interests of its member communities, Richmond added.

Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt said MFA’s definition of the members’ best interests should be broadened to include “the health of ecosystems in communities and the health of future generations.”

The resolution narrowly passed in an electronic vote with 51.6 per cent in favour.

According to an MFA report this month, determining what exactly counts as fossil fuel free may be challenging.

Many big oil companies are also the largest investors in renewable energy, so “excluding them also excludes opportunities to invest in fossil fuel alternatives.”

It also noted many standalone renewable firms have below investment grade credit ratings so MFA is barred from buying their bonds.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jennifer Rice North Coast MLA seeks re-election

Northwest politicians announce intent on elections

No COVID-19 public exposures in the North Health Region at this time

Northern Health Authority issued a statement on Sept. 17

Tax penalties of 10 per cent to be applied by City if not paid on time

Prince Rupert Property taxes for certain non-residential properties are due by Sept. 30

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Northwest firefighters headed to Oregon to battle wildfires

Over 200 B.C. firefighting personnel will assist in the U.S.

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Thousands of child care spaces coming to 35 B.C. communities

Province announces milestone in Childcare BC plan

Most Read