San Fransisco and Oakland issued claims against 5 major oil companies in the state courts on Wednesday in the latest attempts to hold fossil fuel producers accountable for the effects of climate change. The lawsuits call for the oil cos to pay billions into a fund for the coastal infrastructure necessary to protect property and neighborhoods against sea level rise in the sister cities, which face each other across San Francisco Bay.
These suits follow others filed by California’s Marin and San Mateo counties and by the city of Imperial Beach in San Diego County against 37 fossil fuel companies earlier this summer. See: San Fransisco, Oakland sue oil giants over climate change:
“These fossil fuel companies profited handsomely for decades while knowing they were putting the fate of our cities at risk,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in announcing the lawsuits. “Instead of owning up to it, they copied a page from the Big Tobacco playbook. They launched a multi-million dollar disinformation campaign to deny and discredit what was clear even to their own scientists: global warming is real, and their product is a huge part of the problem.”
The legal task of apportioning responsibility for damage was aided by a peer-reviewed paper in the journal Climatic Change this month which quantifies the amount of sea level rise and increase in global surface temperatures that can be traced to the emissions from specific fossil fuel companies. It concludes that nearly 30% of the rise in global sea level between 1880 and 2010 resulted from emissions traced to the 90 largest carbon producers. While six percent resulted from emissions traced to Exxon Mobil, Chevron and BP, the three largest contributors.