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New York City sues five oil companies over climate change

New York City sues five oil companies over climate change”

"The city seeks to shift the costs of protecting the city from climate change impacts back onto the companies that have done almost all they could to create this existential threat", reads the lawsuit, which was filed in the Southern District of NY. "We are going after those who have profited".

A New York Times article this week describes efforts to redraw the city's flood maps, noting, "With its 520 miles of coastline and thousands of acres of waterfront development, New York has more residents living in high-risk flood zones than any other city in the country".

Darren Woods, Chairman & CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation attends a news conference at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 1, 2017. "In the absence of leadership from the White House, it's encouraging to see city and state leaders.stepping up and taking meaningful action to defund the fossil fuel industry and fight climate change".

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city's trustees announced their plan late yesterday. "It's time that things change in the way we do business".

The walls aren't tumbling down on Big Oil just yet, but they may be closing in. This is in line with many divestment efforts by many states and provinces all across the world, which is putting the fossil fuel industry in a tight spot.

Once trustees from each of New York City's five pension funds have been given an analysis of the proposed divestment, and the risk and return characteristics of the portfolio have been addressed by the Office of the City Comptroller's Bureau of Asset Management (BAM), they will seek legal opinion regarding whether the divestment would comply with fiduciary duties to beneficiaries. The World Bank announced in December that it would no longer finance oil and gas exploration. Three cities in California-San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Cruz-have also filed similar litigation in response to climate change.

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Bill McKibben, an author and co-founder of climate advocacy group, praised the city's actions on Wednesday.

The money is seen as necessary to make NY more resilient against extreme weather events. "Because right now we have it upside down and backwards".

New York's lawsuit echoes a similar effort on the west coast, where two California counties and a city are suing 37 fossil fuel companies for knowingly emitting unsafe levels of greenhouse gases. "Sea levels have risen about one foot since 1900 with much of that rise due to climate change, the most powerful storms are becoming more frequent, and flooding is becoming more frequent and intense".

Exxon this week hit back against the California lawsuits in a filing with a Texas state court pointing out none of the cities disclosed such risks to bond buyers and arguing the lawsuits were politically motivated and linked to cases brought by the states of NY and MA. One of those firms, Exxon, has complained that it has been targeted by a "collection of special interests and opportunistic politicians" as part of a "conspiracy" to force the company to comply with various political objectives.

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. BP Alaska President Janet Weiss sits on Alaska's climate change commission. "I lost my house [on Staten Island during Hurricane Sandy], two of my neighbors died, and all of my neighbors lost their houses". He added, "We're not waiting". I understand [these companies].

"Today Mayor de Blasio turned his back millions of first responders, police officers and public employees who depend on their pensions to provide for themselves and their families in retirement", said Karen Moreau of the American Petroleum Institute, the largest US oil and gas lobbying group.

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