Belridge oil field in California
Photo: ROBYN BECK / AFP
The U.S. state of California is suing five of the world's largest oil companies. It is about environmental damage and the accusation of misleading. California filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhilips and Chevron, as well as the American Petroleum Institute, according to court documents.
The state accuses them of "actively spreading misinformation" about the risks associated with the use of fossil fuels. For more than 50 years, the oil giants have lied to us and obscured the fact that they have long known how dangerous the fossil fuels they produce are to our planet," said California Governor Gavin Newsom. California now wants to "hold the big polluters accountable."
The managers of the oil and gas companies had "known for decades that dependence on fossil fuels would lead to these catastrophic outcomes," according to the lawsuit filed.
Nevertheless, they withheld this information from the general public and politicians and "actively spread misinformation on the subject" for decades, the 135-page complaint continues. As a result of this "deception", society has only reacted belatedly to global warming. Thus, the "misconduct" of the oil managers has led to "enormous costs for people, property and natural resources".
"By downplaying the scientific consensus on climate change and emphasizing uncertainty, the defendants hoped to delay any regulatory action (...)," the court documents further accuse the oil companies. The companies did not initially comment on the matter when asked.
California's lawsuit seeks the establishment of a fund to cover the costs of future damage caused by climate change in the state, such as wildfires and floods.