New York City made a bold step this week in deciding to sue several major oil companies for their role in causing climate change. The reason the charges have been made are to help offset the costs that are associated with preparing the city for the effects of climate change in the near and distant future. These improvements come with steep costs, yet the oil companies that are responsible for causing a lot of environmental damage do not incur any costs that are put into trust for projects and improvements.
One of the main arguments that the city has cited in the lawsuit was that the oil companies knew of the harm they were causing, but lobbied for the loosening of regulations so that they would not have to incur charges. By creating confusion and a means for avoiding any responsibility for the issues that are created, it leaves grounds for the city to sue. Willfully creating issues that are on such a huge scale creates the assumption of guilt that the lawsuit is basing its claim on.
Similar lawsuits have been brought against industry giants by cities that seek to provide some sort of financial safety net for wide reaching issues. Looking back those cases did not go anywhere after the initial suits were made. By introducing similar but new lawsuits in another location the initial suits are given weight and the suit from New York City carries more significance as well. California city officials and the original law firms that were involved in the older suits have commented on this new case and are eager to work with New York City to determine ways to best bring cases against these oil giants.
At the end of the day, none of the oil companies named in the lawsuit had yet issued a statement or responded to press inquiries. All five of the companies are expected to argue against the companies though in order to maintain their current level of operation.