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California sues oil majors over climate deception

  • : Crude oil
  • 23/09/18

California sued five of the world's top oil producers for allegedly covering up the truth over climate change for decades and causing billions of dollars in health and environmental costs to the state.

The civil lawsuit filed in San Francisco targets ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell and BP, as well as the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade group.

It calls for the defendants to set up and contribute to an abatement fund to pay for the costs associated with climate-related disasters, including wildfires and storms.

"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," said Governor Gavin Newsom (D). "California is taking action to hold big polluters accountable."

With the lawsuit, the state becomes the biggest geographical area and largest economy to take on the oil industry, according to California Attorney General Rob Bonta. "From extreme heat to drought and water shortages, the climate crisis they have caused is undeniable. It is time they pay to abate the harm they have caused."

The API hit back at the lawsuit, saying climate policy should be decided by Congress rather than the courts. It also noted that the industry has made significant progress in slashing emissions in recent decades, while achieving its goal of providing affordable and reliable energy supplies.

"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," said API Senior Vice President and General Counsel Ryan Meyers.

Shell said its position on climate change has been a matter of public record for decades, and it fully supports the need for society to transition to a lower-carbon future. "We do not believe the courtroom is the right venue to address climate change, but that smart policy from government and action from all sectors is the appropriate way to reach solutions and drive progress," the company said in a statement.

Climate change is a global problem that requires a coordinated international policy response, according to a Chevron spokesperson.

"California has long been a leading promoter of oil and gas development," the company spokesperson added. "Its local courts have no constructive or constitutionally permissible role in crafting global energy policy."

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