The state of California has filed a civil case against ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron, as well as the American Petroleum Institute (API), alleging that these companies caused billions of dollars in damages and misled the public about the risks of fossil fuels. The suit, filed in San Francisco, seeks the creation of an abatement fund to pay for future damages caused by climate disasters in California.
The complaint, consisting of 135 pages, accuses the oil companies of suppressing information about the catastrophic effects of fossil fuels on the environment and downplaying the scientific consensus on climate change. The defendants allegedly pushed disinformation campaigns to delay regulatory action and protect their profits.
California, a state heavily affected by climate change-induced wildfires, flooding, and extreme weather events, is seeking accountability and compensation from the oil companies for the costs incurred by people, property, and natural resources.
The lawsuit has drawn criticism from the defendants. The API argued that climate policy should be debated and decided by Congress, not the court system. Chevron expressed that climate change requires a global policy response, not fragmented litigation for the benefit of lawyers and politicians. Shell also maintained that action is needed on climate change but believes that the courtroom is not the appropriate venue.
This lawsuit has been described as a “watershed moment” in the fight against oil companies’ deception regarding climate change. It is seen as a sign that climate lawsuits against the industry will continue to grow, holding these major polluters accountable for their actions.
– Fossil fuels: Fuel sources that are formed from the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago, such as coal, oil, and natural gas.
– Disinformation campaigns: Deliberate spreading of false or misleading information with the intention to deceive or manipulate.
– Abatement fund: A fund created to mitigate or compensate for damages caused by specific activities or issues.
– Climate change: Long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns across the globe, primarily caused by human activities releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
– AFP, “The State of California Files Lawsuit Against Five Major Oil Companies”