California has filed a lawsuit against five major oil companies, including ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, Shell, and Chevron, as well as the American Petroleum Institute (API), alleging that they knowingly lied about the dangers of their products for nearly 70 years. The state claims that the companies intentionally downplayed the risks of fossil fuels, even though they understood the potential for significant global warming.
The complaint argues that the companies have continued to mislead the public about their commitment to reducing emissions, while profiting from the production of planet-warming fossil fuels. California is asking the court to create an abatement fund to pay for future damages caused by climate-related disasters in the state. This would close the loophole that allows corporations to pollute without compensating society for the harm they cause.
The lawsuit alleges a range of misconduct, including misleading advertising, unlawful business practices, and the pollution and destruction of natural resources. The state argues that California taxpayers should not have to bear the costs of dealing with climate impacts alone and that the responsible companies should be held accountable for the lies they have told.
California has already spent billions of dollars on climate disasters and expects costs to rise significantly in the future. The lawsuit is seen as a milestone in the legal fight against major polluters and signals that the wave of climate lawsuits against big oil will continue to grow.
Governor Gavin Newsom expressed his outrage, stating that the companies had lied and that the consequences could have been avoided. The lawsuit echoes the sentiment that corporations and individuals who have profited from polluting our planet need to be held accountable. Similar to previous cases involving lead paint, California is seeking to create an abatement fund with the settlement money. Industy Group API responded that climate policy should be the responsibility of Congress and not the court system.
– New York Times