New York City sues five oil majors

Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

City demands money to fund climate resiliency measures

NEW YORK CITY has filed a lawsuit against five of the world’s largest investor-owned fossil fuel companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell – for billions of dollars to cover its costs for climate change.

The City has not specified the exact amount of damages it is seeking but says that the money is to cover the costs of the effect of harm already done to the climate as a result of oil and gas use, and the damage that will be seen over the coming century. These include rising sea levels, high temperatures, high precipitation and an increased likelihood of more frequent and intense flooding. The City has already set up a US$20bn resiliency programme to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

In a statement, New York City says that the money demanded will fund climate resiliency measures. This will include physical infrastructure such as coastal defences, upgraded water and sewer systems, and public health campaigns, such as to protect residents from the effects of extreme heat.

New York City says that recent documents have proved that major oil firms knew of the dangers of burning fossil fuels in the 1980s, but then “deliberately engaged in a campaign of deception and denial about global warming and its impacts”, continuing to profit from the sale of oil and gas and protecting their own assets from the impacts. More than half of the greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuels has occurred since 1988.


This article is adapted from an earlier online version.

Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

Senior reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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