The US cities San Francisco and Oakland have filed a lawsuit against several big names in the fossil fuel industry, over the costs of the climate change that they’ve enabled. The companies that have been targeted are Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, and ExxonMobil.
This decision comes after similar legal actions were taken last month by the counties of Marin, San Diego, San Mateo, and Imperial Beach City.
This having been said, representatives of the two cities have filed separate lawsuits, on Tuesday. The objective of the lawsuits is to hold the companies responsible for the costly changes to infrastructure that are needed in order to ensure that the both San Francisco, and Oakland are prepared for the consequences of climate change, as well as for those of the rising sea levels.
The attorneys base their cases on the fact that the companies that are being sued have been aware of how the extraction and use of fossil fuels are affecting the environment, and have chosen to ignore the dangers of climate change. The fact that they have continued to sell fuel has led to the destabilization of the planet’s climate and is currently forcing a large number of cities to spend enormous amounts of money in order to adapt.
The companies have also been accused of launching disinformation campaigns meant to deny the dangerous reality of global warming, in order to be able to continue selling fossil fuel.
Representatives of the oil industry have stated that the lawsuits are unproductive and that the companies have already made the issue of global warming a priority, and that they will play big parts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the territory of the United States.
The attorneys representing the City of California expect the companies to be “hold the defendants jointly and severally liable for creating, contributing to and/or maintaining a public nuisance and to create an abatement fund for each city to be paid for by defendants to fund infrastructure projects necessary for San Francisco and Oakland to adapt to global warming and sea level rise.”
This view could be supported by articles such as the one written by Frumhoff and Allen, two climate experts who have stated that the money to cover the damages created by phenomena resulted from climate change should be paid by the oil companies, not the taxpayers.
The two have used a well-known climate model in order to determine how much of the sea level rise and global warming was caused by the oil industry. The results have shown that approx. 30% of the rise in global sea level between 1880 and 2010 are caused by carbon producers. Furthermore, over 6% of the rise in global sea level has been traced back to ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Bp, defendants in the recent lawsuit,
As for the damage created by the extreme weather generated by global warming, the scientists have specified that out of the hundreds of billions of dollars required to rebuild, three companies mentioned above have collectively pledged a mere $2.75 million.