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In a major move against climate change deception, the state of California has lodged a comprehensive lawsuit against several prominent oil companies. This case, spearheaded by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, centers around the alleged disinformation campaign led by big oil companies to camouflage the link between fossil fuel production and the accelerating climate crisis.
Source: ABC7 News Bay Area/YouTube
Originating from the 1970s, this alleged misinformation stunt is claimed to have delayed the public’s Climate change awareness, intensifying natural calamities and imposing huge recovery expenses. The companies facing these accusations include notable names like BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and Shell. Additionally, the American Petroleum Institute, the trade association representing these corporations, is also named in the suit.
California’s key demand is the creation of an abatement fund. This fund, to be sponsored by the accused, would Support future recovery efforts resulting from human-induced climate changes. Furthermore, the state is pressing for these companies and the API to bear a part of the costs of the exacerbated extreme weather events.
While such lawsuits against oil companies aren’t new, the entry of California – a state frequently hit by extreme weather – makes it distinctive. Korey Silverman-Roati from Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate change Law observed, “California getting involved is a big signal… that they think this is a winning case.”
Notably, the suit follows an April Supreme Court decision that rejected the oil companies’ bid for federal hearings on similar cases, favoring state-level adjudication.
Governor Newsom expressed his backing for the lawsuit on social media. The allegations span across multiple claims, including false advertising and damaging natural resources.
In response, Chevron emphasized the need for a coordinated international policy, dismissing the lawsuit as political maneuvering. The American Petroleum Institute shared similar views, criticizing the “meritless, politicized lawsuits.” Meanwhile, Shell reiterated their longstanding public stance on Climate change, and BP chose to remain silent.
Drawing parallels, experts liken this lawsuit to previous legal actions against opioid and tobacco giants, focusing on deceptive advertising. Silverman-Roati concluded, “State courts have a history of adjudicating company actions related to product dangers… So this legal battle will be one to watch.”
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