By Gloria Ogbonna
California has initiated a groundbreaking lawsuit against some of the world’s largest oil and gas corporations, alleging that they misled the public and understated the risks associated with fossil fuels.
In a civil lawsuit filed in state Superior Court in San Francisco, California also calls for the establishment of a fund, funded by these companies, to cover the costs of recovery efforts following devastating storms and fires. Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has emphasized that the named companies, which include Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP, should be held responsible.
“For more than 50 years, Big Oil has been lying to us – covering up the fact that they’ve long known how dangerous the fossil fuels they produce are for our planet,” Newsom stated. “California taxpayers shouldn’t have to bear the burden of billions of dollars in damages – wildfires wiping out entire communities, toxic smoke polluting our air, deadly heatwaves, record-breaking droughts parching our wells.”
The 135-page complaint argues that these companies have been aware, since at least the 1960s, that burning fossil fuels would lead to global warming and climate change. However, they downplayed this imminent threat in their public statements and marketing.
The lawsuit alleges that the companies’ own scientists knew as early as the 1950s about the catastrophic climate impacts and the limited time frame for communities and governments to respond. Instead, the lawsuit claims that these corporations initiated a disinformation campaign, beginning as early as the 1970s, to discredit the growing scientific consensus on climate change and challenge climate-related risks.
California sues oil companies claiming they downplayed the risk of fossil fuels https://t.co/UQ4v6Z3hlg
— #TuckFrump (@realTuckFrumper) September 17, 2023
The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group also included in the lawsuit, argued that climate policy should be debated in Congress, not in court. The organization’s senior vice-president, Ryan Meyers, stated, “This ongoing, coordinated campaign to wage meritless, politicized lawsuits against a foundational American industry and its workers is nothing more than a distraction from important national conversations and an enormous waste of California taxpayer resources.”
Shell also released a statement, asserting that the courtroom is not the appropriate venue to address global warming and advocating for a collaborative, society-wide approach to tackle climate change.
California’s legal action aligns with similar lawsuits filed by states and municipalities in recent years. Kathy Mulvey of the Union of Concerned Scientists noted that “California’s suit adds to the growing momentum to hold Big Oil accountable for its decades of deception and secure access to justice for people and communities suffering from fossil-fueled extreme weather and slow-onset disasters like sea-level rise.”
State Attorney General Rob Bonta, commenting on the lawsuit, stated that these companies “have fed us lies and mistruths to further their record-breaking profits at the expense of our environment. Enough is enough.”
The lawsuit’s allegations include holding the companies responsible for contributing to climate change in California, false advertising, damage to natural resources, and unlawful business practices due to their deception regarding climate change.
Richard Wiles, President of the Center for Climate Integrity, described California’s legal action as a “watershed moment” in the expanding legal battle to hold major polluters accountable for decades of climate-related misinformation. He emphasized that Californians have endured a climate emergency caused by the fossil fuel industry and now the state is taking decisive action to hold these polluters accountable.
Gloria Ogbonna stands as an exceptional individual who effortlessly weaves together the crafts of storytelling and writing. From an early age, she possessed an inquisitive spirit and a pen destined for greatness. Her innate grasp of the human experience and an insatiable yearning to unearth untold stories underscore her remarkable journey. Gloria possesses a distinct talent for crafting words that leave a profound impact, showcasing her ability to create change through the art of communication. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of yourNEWS. (Note: Articles may not be original content. Referenced byline for original source.)