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News > U.S.

California Sues Major Oil Companies for Climate Risks

  • Oil facilities in the U.S.

    Oil facilities in the U.S. | Photo: X/ @SarlisSioux

Published 18 September 2023 (7 hours 47 minutes ago)

The lawsuit is against Exxon, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and the American Petroleum Institute.

California has suffered extreme weather in recent years, which has resulted in devastating wildfires, air pollution, deadly heat waves and record-breaking droughts.


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The latest lawsuit filed on Friday by California aimed to hold some of the world's largest oil companies accountable for the damage caused by climate change-induced storms and wildfires.

The lawsuit was against oil companies Exxon, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and BP, as well as their trade group, the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Oil companies are demanded by the lawsuit to pay their fair share for recovery efforts from climate change-induced superstorms and wildfires, and other efforts to mitigate extreme heat, drought and flooding.

California is the latest and largest state to join the campaign against oil companies. Other states, including Rhode Island and Minnesota, and cities, such as Honolulu and Baltimore, have filed similar lawsuits.

The state has spent tens of billions of dollars to adapt to climate change and address the damages climate change has caused so far, and the state will need to spend multiples of that in the years to come, according to the complaint.

API senior vice president and general counsel Ryan Meyers called these lawsuits "meritless" and "politicized."

In a statement in response to California's lawsuit, he said, "it is nothing more than a distraction from important national conversations and an enormous waste of California taxpayer resources."

As another move to hold big corporations accountable, California lawmakers on last Monday passed a bill that would require major corporations, from oil and gas companies to retail giants, to reveal their greenhouse-gas emissions.

"This disclosure bill is for businesses that earn over 1 billion dollars a year in California. That's over 5,300 businesses, so it's not insignificant," said California Governor Gavin Newsom at Sunday's conference while discussing the state's efforts to address climate change.

He said a number of multinationals, like Apple and Salesforce, "in the last few days came on board" in support of the legislation. But the bill is a controversial proposal that many other businesses and groups in the state oppose and say will be too burdensome.

The legislation, the first of its kind in the nation, now awaits Newsom's signature to become law. The governor suggested on Sunday that he would sign the bill.

"We need to exercise not just our formal authority, but we need to share our moral authority" in fighting climate change, he said.

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