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The cities of San Francisco and Oakland in California have filed separate lawsuits against 5 of the largest oil companies in the world for the roles played by those companies in anthropogenic climate warming and rising sea levels, public documents have revealed.

Climate Change

San Francisco & Oakland Sue 5 Oil Companies For Role In Climate Warming & Rising Seas

The cities of San Francisco and Oakland in California have filed separate lawsuits against 5 of the largest oil companies in the world for the roles played by those companies in anthropogenic climate warming and rising sea levels, public documents have revealed.

Update: For more context and discussion, see: San Francisco & Oakland’s Lawsuit Against 5 Oil Companies — More Depth & Context

The cities of San Francisco and Oakland in California have filed separate lawsuits against 5 of the largest oil companies in the world for the roles played by those companies in anthropogenic climate warming and rising sea levels, public documents have revealed.

These California cities are seeking billions of dollars in damages, money intended to be used for mitigation efforts against rising seas, and probably other climate change associated problems as well.

The 5 oil companies being sued are: Chevron Corp, BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp, and Royal Dutch Shell. The lawsuits — alleging that the companies involved have “created a public nuisance” — were filed in state courts located in San Francisco and Alameda Counties.

A Chevron spokesperson by the name of Melissa Ritchie responded to the lawsuits in predictable fashion, stating: “Should this litigation proceed, it will only serve special interests at the expense of broader policy, regulatory, and economic priorities.”

So, no public acknowledgment of its role in rising sea levels seems likely to be forthcoming from Chevron…

Reuters provides more: “According to a news release from San Francisco city officials, the lawsuits mirror 1980s-era lawsuits against tobacco companies. They allege the oil giants ‘knowingly and recklessly created an ongoing public nuisance that is causing harm now and in the future risks catastrophic harm to human life and property’.

“Shell said in statement the issue should be addressed by government policy and cultural change, not by courts. Exxon called the lawsuits’ claims without merit, and said it would defend itself. ConocoPhillips declined to comment. BP did not respond to a request for comment.

“… Marin and San Mateo counties and Imperial Beach, California, in July brought similar public nuisance and failure to warn lawsuits alleging climate change impacts. Those three lawsuits sued the same five plus other oil companies and coal producers.”

While I don’t hold out much hope on the potential for these cases to damage the operations of the companies sued, perhaps they will serve to draw more attention to the issues? Or maybe not?

The case names — for those looking to follow them in real-time — are:

People of the State of California V. BP et al., Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG17875889;

People of the State of California V. BP et al., San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC 17-561370.

Images via Burrito Justice and the Bold Italic


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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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