Media Release

For immediate release

Port Metro Vancouver's response to public challenges over coal export proposals is evasive and inadequate

-- Port Authority denies any responsibility for impact of exports, ignores calls for broad and transparent consultation

December 20 2012

Vancouver -- The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority issued a response yesterday to the open letter from climate scientists and others delivered on November 27th. The Port Authority has not yet publicly responded to calls from the Cities of Vancouver and New Westminster for broad public consultation, nor has it responded to an open letter from health leaders delivered on December 17th. We comment on the Port Authority's response below.

In the letter released yesterday (attached), the Port Authority makes two major points.

First, it persists in narrowly defining its mandate as the demand-driven facilitation of trade, and disavows any responsibility for the problems created by the export of coal.

Global demand for coal is growing, but it is neither in British Columbia's nor Canada's long term interest to blindly service that demand. The International Energy Agency reported earlier this year that if we continue to meet increasing demand for fossil fuels, by 2050 the world will be locked in to a devastating 6 degree celsius increase in temperature. If that happens, it will be no comfort to our children that Metro Vancouver's port once did a thriving business exporting coal.

In short, by narrowly focusing on meeting demand for coal, the Port Authority is helping facilitate runaway climate change. "We live in a port community, and it's operations are of concern to us all. It's just wrong that an institution so integral to our region defines its mission as simply meeting global demand for goods, regardless of the implications" said David Green, Director with Voters Taking Action on Climate Change. "The Port Authority needs to find a balance between facilitating trade, our right to be heard, and our aspirations for a healthy and secure future. Every citizen in every job has a moral responsibility to do what's right," Green said.

We remind the Port Authority once again of the entirety of their federal mandate, including the requirement that they operate with broad public support in the best interests of Canadians. These proposals are in no one's best interest.

Second, the letter describes the steps that the Port Authority has taken to date to consult over these proposals, and indicates that they are committed to transparency in their consultation processes. We point out that they have not made public any of the comments or concerns from residents or municipal governments collected through their consultations, which runs counter to their commitment to transparency. We also point out that the Cities of Vancouver and New Westminster have both called for a full public review of these coal export plans, which indicates that they also find Port Authority's consultation process to date inadequate. Finally, we point out that organizations such as ours have provided the public with opportunities to send comments to the Port Authority, that hundreds of people have done so, and that our public posting of these comments shows that there is broad opposition to these coal export proposals.

We remind the Port Authority of its own stated commitment to being an active neighbour to Metro Vancouver communities. Their process around coal export proposals fails to meet this commitment on several points. Their narrow focus on meeting demand for coal contradicts their goal of building sustainable futures together with Metro Vancouver communities. They fail to provide opportunities to these communities and their leadership for meaningful input into the expansion of port facilities. We see no effort on their part at two way communication and meaningful public participation in order to reach consensus on future developments that can be embraced by all parties.

In short, our concerns remain the same. Climate change is a very real and urgent threat. The proposals before the Port Authority will only make disastrous climate change more likely. As an active neighbour and an integral part of our regional community, we invite the Port Authority to join us in taking responsibility for ensuring our children have a healthy and secure future. We call on them to delay a decision on coal export expansion, and open these proposals to full public review. This is the transparent, fair and morally responsible thing to do.

See attached several photos taken at the silent demonstration Tuesday Dec 18 at Port Metro Vancouver headquarters. Available for use by media, credit to Robert Semeniuk.

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Citizens Stand up for their Future, December 18, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Headquarters

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