Article by Meghan Beakley
Nine coastal U.S. cities are suing over two dozen oil, gas, and coal companies for damages caused by global warming.
The suit, which was first filed late last year by San Francisco and Oakland, has now expanded to include New York and six smaller cities in California. Most of the cities involved are coastal and have seen firsthand the effects of climate change-related flooding.
The cities are suing on the grounds that oil companies, which include BP, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil, ignored warnings about global warming and continued to produce fossil fuels despite effects on the environment. They claim that rising global temperatures caused by fossil fuel consumption have led sea levels to rise, directly affecting coastal cities such as San Francisco and New York.
The cities involved in the lawsuit have cited costs of adaptations such as building seawalls and raising roadways as grounds for litigation.
Richmond, CA, one of the most recent cities to sue, said in their complaint that the oil companies “have known for nearly 50 years that greenhouse gas pollution from their fossil fuel products has a significant impact on the Earth’s climate and sea levels.”
Richmond is suing the Chevron Corporation for negligence and strict liability, among other things.
In a blog for Exxon Mobil, spokeswoman Suzanne McCarron responded to the allegations by stating, “ExxonMobil welcomes any well-meaning and good faith attempt to address the risks of climate change. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue and requires global participation and actions. Lawsuits of this kind — filed by trial attorneys against an industry that provides products we all rely upon to power the economy and enable our domestic life – simply do not do that.”
McCarron went on to claim that the lawsuits are seeking to extort billions of dollars out of shareholders and that Exxon Mobil is committed to the Paris Accord and other measures to reduce the effects of global warming.
Still, other cities are already looking to follow suit.
“We’re getting rising sea levels, wildfires, mudslides — that’s the implication of climate change right there,” Los Angeles city councilman Mike Bonin said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “That does damage to our infrastructure. It just has some wide-ranging and comprehensive implications.”
Trials in two of the cases began on March 21. The others are set to begin later this year.
Feature Image Credit: Madeline Kovacs / Project Survival Media