New York City sues oil companies for climate change damages | News | DW | 11.01.2018
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New York City sues oil companies for climate change damages

The city alleges that five oil firms knew about the detrimental effects of burning fossil fuels for decades. San Francisco and Oakland have already filed similar lawsuits.

New York City announced Wednesday a lawsuit against five global oil giants for contributing to climate change and said it planned to sell its investments in fossil fuel companies.

"We're bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits," Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said. "As climate change continues to worsen, it's up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient."

Read more: Four climate change lawsuits to watch in 2018

Read more: Rockefeller Fund: 'The oil age is coming to an end'

Seeking damages

The city is suing BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell for allegedly knowing for decades that burning fossil fuels helped cause climate change.

De Blasio said New York would use the damages to offset the costs of protecting the city from the future effects of global warming. The move follows similar lawsuits by San Francisco and Oakland.

Exxon, Chevron and Shell said the lawsuit would not help tackle climate change.

"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue and requires global participation and actions," Exxon Mobil's Scott Silvestri said. "Lawsuits of this kind — filed by trial attorneys against an industry that provides products we all rely upon to power the economy and enable our domestic life — simply do not do that."

Read more: McKibben: 'We won the climate argument, now we have to win the fight'

Finance and sustainability

De Blasio also said New York City's pension funds would sell around $5 billion (€4 billion) of their investments in fossil fuel companies.

"Safeguarding the retirement of our city's police officers, teachers and firefighters is our top priority, and we believe that their financial future is linked to the sustainability of the planet," Scott Stringer, the city's comptroller, said.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a major US trade group, denounced the city's decision.

"Ironically, this attack on energy manufacturers comes at a time that New Yorkers have depended on natural gas and heating oil to carry them through the recent extreme cold," NAM Senior Vice President Linda Kelly said. "The mayor's announcement may raise his profile, but it will do nothing to address climate change and will ultimately fail."

The move follows similar divestment decisions by other municipalities in the US and elsewhere. Democratic Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, said in December the state would also sell its investments in fossil fuel companies.

Read more: Global voices call for fossil fuels divestment

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Divestment trend in Münster

amp/msh (dpa, AP)

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