NY sues BP, Shell to 'protect city from climate change'

De Blasio stands with science

In addition, the Mayor also announced the city has filed a lawsuit against oil companies BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell, seeking damages to recoup billions of dollars which NY will spend to shield its inhabitants from the effects of climate change. According to a press release issued by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, the city is already undertaking over $20 billion in infrastructure updates to protect New York City residents from the consequences of climate change like sea level rise and more powerful storms.

The companies in question are: Chevron, BP, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips - arguably the 5 top oil firms in the world that aren't state-owned.

New York City has sued a handful of the world's largest oil producers in federal court, claiming they're the world's largest industrial contributors to climate change.

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (KWOH'-moh) also plans to have the state pension funds begin to divest. "Those lawsuits were crucial to changing the public perception of tobacco and the industry behind it, and that change helped drive new policy", de Blasio said. Chevron said the compliant was "factually and legally meritless", according to the WSJ.

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

Daren Beaudo, ConocoPhillips' director of media relations and crisis communications, said the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.

New York's suit is particularly notable because its attorney general is investigating whether ExxonMobil misled investors about its risks to climate change.

San Francisco, Oakland and seven other cities and counties in California have filed similar suits in state court, though some of these named only ExxonMobil as a defendant.

In total, the city's five pension funds hold roughly USD5 billion in the securities of over 190 fossil fuel companies.

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As Bloomberg notes, the lawsuit in NY hinges on the concepts of "public nuisance" and "private nuisance", well-worn legal concepts that have yet to be applied to a problem as complex as climate change. He recalled the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which crippled New York City in 2012.

Mayor de Blasio and City Comptroller Scott Stringer also announced plans to sell off $5 billion in fossil fuel investments from the city's $189 billion pension fund for employees - the largest such divestment of any US city.

The mayor's office also hinted at recent disclosures about what the oil industry knew about climate change, and when.

Such is the power of an action emanating from a center as symbolically important as New York City: What felt politically impossible yesterday suddenly seems possible, and the dominos start instantly falling.

"I want to use this opportunity to be 100 percent clear about where we stand on climate change", McCarron wrote.

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas company's trade association, did not respond to The Nation's request for comment.

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.

"Taxpayers and impacted communities are right to demand that major fossil fuel companies.pay their fair share", Mr Frumhoff said.

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