NYC sues oil companies over climate change

NYC sues oil companies over climate change

The de Blasio administration is suing some of the world's biggest oil companies to recoup the billions of dollars that New York City claims it must spend to protect New Yorkers from climate change. Three of the companies shot back against the mayor's accusations, while two others - ConocoPhillips and BP - declined to enter the fray.

"Climate change is a complex societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers, not by the courts", said a spokesperson for Shell.

"This lawsuit is based on the claim that a corporation that makes a product causing severe harm when used exactly as intended should shoulder the costs of abating that harm", the city said in the complaint.

"Our industry has led the way in reducing U.S. carbon emissions to their lowest levels in almost 25 years due to the increased use of clean and abundant natural gas to deliver reliable electricity, " API New York Executive Director Karen Moreau said in a statement.

Exxon Mobil responded to the news of the lawsuit in a blog, arguing that court cases aren't the best way to stop climate change. The company said in a statement that it "welcomes any well-meaning and good faith attempts to address the risks of climate change".

"New York City today becomes a capital of the fight against climate change on this planet", said Bill McKibben, co-founder of environmental group 350.org, in a statement.

New York City is already implementing its over $20bn resiliency program, which aims to recover from climate change damages and prepare for future climate events by building resilience against rising seas, more powerful storms, and hotter temperatures. They say the divestment is the largest of any municipality in the U.S.to date.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced similar plans for the state pension funds last month. She says hundreds of institutional investors managing assets of over $5.5 trillion have taken their money out of fossil fuel investments. He and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli are creating an advisory committee to examine the way to proceed with divestment.

Vondrich said other cities and entities divesting of fossil fuel interests have included Washington, D.C., Berlin and Cape Town; insurance companies Swiss Re, Axa and Allianz; and educational institutions such as the University of Oxford in Great Britain, Stanford University in California and Trinity College in Ireland.

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. Roughly $5 billion is now invested in 190 fuel companies, the city said, claiming that its reallocation of funds represents "the most significant divestment efforts in the world to date".

The American Petroleum Institute has previously said the divestment movement is misguided.

Various other USA cities have committed to divest their fossil fuel holdings.

"New York City is taking on these five giants because they are the central actors, they are the first ones responsible for this crisis, and they should not get away with it anymore", de Blasio told reporters.

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