NYC Sues Fossil Fuel Industry over Hidden Costs of Climate Change

New York City plans to divest $5bn from fossil fuels and sue oil companies

New York City plans to divest $5bn from fossil fuels and sue oil companies

This two pronged attack, introduced by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday, included divestment of about $5 billion dollars in fossil fuel related holdings from the city's pension funds. This echoes a separate investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman into ExxonMobil.

It is yet to be seen if Los Angeles will join the legal action against the fossil fuel industry. Many areas in New York City are built in low-lying wetlands, including JFK airport.

De Blasio said that the city is taking the five fossil fuel firms - BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell - to federal court due to their contribution to climate change.

New York City will now become one of a growing number of cities divesting from at least some types of fossil fuels, as well as universities, including Oxford and the London School of Economics in the UK.

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. The other oil majors intimated similar messages, while also acknowledging that there needs to be some sort of large-scale effort to address climate change, although they were vague on what that actually meant in practice. Part of the allegations stem from decades of knowledge and scientific research on behalf of the oil industry into climate change. The Guardian reports that Mayor Bill de Blasio has made fighting climate change a priority in his administration as a way to protect the metropolis.

Marin County, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz County and the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and Imperial Beach also have filed similar lawsuits against oil companies, the motion said.

The case against the fossil fuel companies state that they've imperiled the city and cost an enormous amount of money to taxpayers as NY fights flooding and erosion caused by climate change.

"With its communities exceptionally vulnerable to a rising sea, the city is showing the spirit for which it's famous - it's not pretending that working with the fossil fuel companies will somehow save the day, but instead standing up to them, in the financial markets and in court".

"It's therefore extremely encouraging to see NYC step up today to safeguard their city and exercise their role as investors to protect their beneficiaries from climate-risk".

New York City is taking a stand, and it is a city that tends to set the fashion. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, notable for its links to the past oil wealth of John D Rockefeller, has also sought to divest.

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