New York City is suing 5 oil companies over their contribution to global warming, in an effort to recoup funds spent to adapt to rising sea levels and other effects, according to Mayor de Blasio. As detailed by the Hill, defendants will include Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. The announcement follows news that the city will divest its pension plans from oil and fossil fuel companies, according the Associated Press.
De Blasio said in reference to that move that the city is “standing up for future generations by becoming the first major US city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels,” selling off billions of dollars of investments. Fossil fuel investments made up 5 billion out of a total 189 billion in the city’s pension funds. According to De Blasio and the city’s comptroller, Scott Stringer, the divestment is the largest by any US municipality so far.
“At the same time, we’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits,” said De Blasio. “As climate change continues to worsen, it’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient.”
In response to the lawsuit, Exxon said in a statement:
“ExxonMobil welcomes any well-meaning and good faith attempt to address the risks of climate change. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue and requires global participation and actions. Lawsuits of this kind — filed by trial attorneys against an industry that provides products we all rely upon to power the economy and enable our domestic life – simply do not do that.”
A statement from Shell also argued that climate change is not an issue that belongs in court. For its part, BP did not give a comment to the AP on the matter. A spokesperson from Chevron said the suit was meritless, and would fail to address climate change in any meaningful way.
Environmental activist Bill McKibben praised the move, calling it “one of a handful of the most important developments” in decades.
“The mightiest city on the planet has now sort of walked into a real fight with the richest and most irresponsible industry on the planet,” said McKibben.
The same five companies were sued last year by San Francisco and Oakland for their role in causing the effects of climate change. The two cities filed lawsuits in each of their county courts.