The city of New York has filed a lawsuit against five large oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, in an attempt to hold them responsible for their role in climate change. New York’s government has also set their sights on ConocoPhillips, BP, and Chevron. In addition, the city announced it will strip away its five-year funds reserve for fossil fuel companies.
“Recently uncovered documents make it clear the fossil fuel industry was well aware of the effects that burning fossil fuels would have on the planet’s atmosphere,” New York City said in a statement.
The announcement also blamed the oil companies for being aware of the expected impacts of climate change ever since the 1980s. More so, these companies funded massive campaigns over the years to steer public opinion in favor of their business and protect their assets in the process.
The city is seeking damages from Royal Dutch Shell and the other oil companies that range in the billions of dollars. This money will then be used to protect New Yorkers from the effects of climate change, and address already existing problems caused by the conglomerates.
In order to rectify past and future harm done to the environment, New York City is ready to commence a resiliency program to protect against rising seas, potentially devastating storms and increasing temperatures. The program is said to cost more than $20 billion dollars.
Most of the companies listed in the lawsuit commented on the situation, with a Chevron spokesman calling New York’s intent “factually and legally meritless”. An ExxonMobil spokesman said that reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires global participation and a small legislative entity that wants to challenge a business that provides energy to millions of people does not have grounds for a lawsuit.
ConocoPhillips reportedly declined to comment, while BP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, and Comptroller Scott Stringer announced on Wednesday that the city’s five pension funds, which total around $189 billion, will divest $5 billion from more than 190 “fossil fuel reserve owners” within the next five years.
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