The civil society movement against oil companies is gaining momentum, reflecting the growing awareness of environmental damage and public health risks associated with these companies. In an unprecedented move, the US state of California has taken legal action against five of the world’s largest oil companies, accusing them of causing massive economic damage and misleading the public by understating on the climate risks of fossil fuels. . Local authorities say these companies have known about these risks since the 1950s.
The civil suit was filed in San Francisco Superior Court and targets Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Conoco Phillips and Chevron, all based in California, as well as the American Petroleum Institute (API). The prosecution maintained that these companies “deliberately minimizes the risks of fossil fuels to the population, despite his knowledge of the essential effects of global warming which can cause their products.
This case joins a growing number of legal actions filed by cities, counties and states in the United States against entities involved in fossil fuels because of their impact on the environment. California Governor Gavin Newsom backed the lawsuit, saying: “For more than 50 years, Big Oil has lied to us, covering up the fact that they knew long ago how dangerous fossil fuels are. fuel that they create on our planet.”.
However, the oil industry is not slow to defend itself. An API spokesperson criticized the government’s initiative, arguing that climate policy “should be debated and adopted by Congress, not the judicial system.” API spokeswoman Andrea Woods said the lawsuits are politically baseless and divert attention from more important issues.
Measures to prevent climate change
For its part, a Shell spokesperson acknowledged the need to act to combat climate change but argued that a court was not the appropriate place to address this issue.
With this legal action, California seeks to create a fund intended to address future damages caused by climate change, such as fires and floods, which have severely affected the state in recent years. good years.
The lawsuit also alleges that oil company executives have known for decades that reliance on fossil fuels could lead to catastrophic consequences, but hid this information from the public and policymakers, who actively advocated of wrong information on the issue.
Since the wave of complaints against oil and gas companies began about six years ago, the sector has tried to avoid legal proceedings. However, in May, the US Supreme Court rejected appeals in both cases, allowing the legal action to continue.