Saturday, 21 April, 2018

City seeks billions in damages from largest fossil fuel companies

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio will sue fossil fuel companies for climate impacts New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has made climate action a centerpiece of his administration
Preston Stone | 11 January, 2018, 15:21

The New York City government has announced its plans to sue the world's five biggest fossil fuel companies over their contribution to climate change, and the city will be divesting $5 billion from the fossil fuel industry.

NY is not the first city to sue oil companies.

The complaint said that "the very climate disruption and injuries that Defendants' scientists and consultants warned them about decades ago have now arrived".

The suit alleges that ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips bear responsibility for the costs of climate damages due to their outsized contributions to global warming emissions and decades of sowing doubt about the risks of their products.

The 67-page suit, filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, says that the fossil fuels the companies produce are the primary cause of climate change and the firms "had full knowledge that fossil fuels would cause catastrophic harm" yet are "denying or downplaying those threats".

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio received immediate blowback from some of the companies, while winning praise from environmentalists and others.

San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Cruz, California, have filed similar lawsuits against oil companies.

NY is now carrying out a $20 billion plan to combat the effects of climate change and protect New Yorkers from rising seas, stronger storms and more extreme temperatures.

"New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major United States city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels", said Bill de Blasio, New York's mayor.

Discovery Channel Headquarters to Leave Silver Spring
Discovery opened its headquarters in Montgomery County in 2003. "It's a lot of families here that are being upended". Discovery Communications is planning to move its headquarters out of downtown Silver Spring.

"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue and requires global participation and actions", said Exxon Mobil's Scott Silvestri.

"New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major USA city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels", de Blasio said in a statement.

Stringer admitted the divestment will be "complex" and will take some time but said the city's pension funds could promote sustainability while also protecting the retirement of teachers, police officers and other city workers.

The New York City (NYC) has announced its plan to divest pension funds of $5bn from fossil fuels reserve owners.

In November, Norway's central bank urged the Norwegian government to consider divesting oil and gas company shares held in the $1 trillion oil fund.

"With its communities exceptionally vulnerable to a rising sea, the city is showing the spirit for which it's famous - it's not pretending that working with the fossil fuel companies will somehow save the day, but instead standing up to them, in the financial markets and in court".

Philanthropies have included the Wallace Global Fund and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, notable because the late John D. Rockefeller grew his wealth as an oil baron.

Kyle Isakower, vice president of the American Petroleum Institute, has previously said that divestment is a "tactic of misinformed activists" that is "incompatible with job creation, affordable energy, and economic prosperity". The industry group's NY executive director, Karen Moreau, accused him of hurting pension holders in "a disgraceful way to score cheap political points".

New York's lawsuit echoes a similar effort on the west coast, where two California counties and a city are suing 37 fossil fuel companies for knowingly emitting unsafe levels of greenhouse gases.

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