NEW YORK – New York City has filed a lawsuit against five major oil companies for damages the city blames on climate change.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says the companies intentionally misled the public to protect their profits and now they need to shoulder the cost of making the city safer.
Following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, the city is engaged in a $20 billion program to increase resiliency to rising sea levels, more powerful storms and rising temperatures.
Dan Sherrell, campaign coordinator for the New York Renews coalition, says the lawsuit is the latest in a string of suits filed across the country over the industry’s role in climate change.
“The concept of fossil fuel company accountability for the hidden costs of their massive carbon emissions is extremely powerful,” he states. “And New York Renews thinks we need to be applying it systematically across the board and not just lawsuit by lawsuit.”
Responding to the suit, a representative for Royal Dutch Shell told the Associated Press that climate change is a complex issue that should not be addressed by the courts.
The state of New York is suing Exxon Mobil, maintaining the company deceived investors by withholding information about the impact of fossil fuels on climate change.
Sherrell says support is growing for the state to institute a corporate polluter fee.
“So that all fossil fuel companies are made to pay for the true cost of their emissions, and that we’re holding them accountable across the board in a way that can generate revenue to further spur the transition to renewable energy,” he stresses.
De Blasioalso announced Wednesday that the city’s pension funds will divest from fossil fuels, withdrawing about $5 billion from more than 190 fossil fuel companies within five years.
Sherrell says these and similar efforts are essential in light of the Trump administration’s commitment to deregulating and promoting fossil fuels.
“It is absolutely up to states like New York to lead the rest of the country and send signals to the rest of the world that we’re still committed to tackling climate change,” he states.
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