The state of California is suing some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, accusing them of decades of deception responsible for billions of dollars in climate change-related disasters.
A civil suit filed Friday in state Superior Court in San Francisco accuses energy giants ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and BP of misleading the public about the dangers of fossil fuels and their impact on climate change. The state seeks to hold companies accountable by requiring them to finance a fund that can be used for recovery efforts after storms and wildfires — rather than putting the burden on taxpayer dollars.
“For more than 50 years, big oil companies have lied to us, hiding the fact that they have long known how dangerous the fossil fuels they produce are for our planet. It has been decades of damage and deception.” , declared the governor of California. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “Wildfires are destroying entire communities, toxic fumes are clogging our air, deadly heat waves, record droughts are drying up our wells. California taxpayers should not have to foot the bill. California is taking action to demand account to the big polluters.”
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Several other states and municipalities, including Rhode Island, Baltimore and Honolulu, have filed similar lawsuits against the energy giants, but California is now the largest economy to file suit against the industry, according to a release from press release from state Attorney General Rob Bonta.
“Thanks to our lawsuit, California becomes the largest geographic area and largest economy to sue these giant oil companies,” Bonta said. “From extreme heat to drought and water shortages, the climate crisis they have caused is undeniable. It is time they pay to mitigate the damage they have caused.”
According to the 135-page complaint, California claims energy companies have been aware of the negative impact of fossil fuels on the environment since at least the 1960s, but have downplayed the risk and launched a misinformation campaign to protect their profits at the expense of taxpayers’ money. .
The American Petroleum Institute, which is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, argued that climate policy is a matter for Congress, not the courts.
“This ongoing, coordinated campaign to bring politicized and baseless lawsuits against a fundamental American industry and its workers is nothing more than a distraction from important national conversations and a huge waste of California taxpayer resources,” he said. Vice President Ryan Meyers said in a statement obtained. by Associated Press.
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For decades, California was one of the nation’s top oil producers, but has since shifted toward greener initiatives amid growing scientific data that highlights the negative impact of gas and oil on the climate.
A recent study published in Future of Energy Policy shows that greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise due to increased consumption of fossil fuels. And human-induced climate change could lead to the premature deaths of around a billion people over the next century, the study found.
“If you take the scientific consensus on the 1,000-ton rule seriously and do the math, anthropogenic global warming is equivalent to a billion premature corpses over the next century. Obviously, we must act. And we must act quickly,” said one of the study’s authors, Joshua Pearce.
The “1,000 ton rule” suggests that approximately one premature death could occur for every 1,000 tons of fossil carbon burned.
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Additionally, a new government report shows how frequent and costly natural disasters have become in the United States.
The United States has experienced more billion-dollar disasters in the first eight months of 2023 than in any year since, according to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. the agency began tracking these events in 1980.
So far this year, NOAA has documented 23 separate weather and climate disasters, each resulting in losses exceeding $1 billion. These disasters include 18 severe weather events, two floods, a tropical cyclone, a wildfire and a winter storm. According to NOAA, the disasters were responsible for 253 deaths and generated nearly $58 billion in damage.
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