In a critical act of defiance to the national government, New York City has plans to divest $5 Billion from fossil fuels and is looking to sue oil companies over their contribution to the effects of global warming that has affected the city. According to the Guardian, The oil companies in the hot seat are BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell with the city putting a special emphasis on Exxon since it “knew of the impact of climate change for decades.”
In the past few years since the Hurricane Sandy floodings, the city has had to pay billions of dollars to protect the lower lying areas of metropolitan Manhattan and the JFK airport with the risks of more natural disasters like rising sea levels and atmospheric warming to come as a result of climate change. Unfortunately, the federal case against the corporations may take several years as the office of the mayor has compared the fight to lawsuits against big tobacco that took many years to resolve even under the pressure of feverent activists. Similar lawsuits were filed by California Counties and Cities last year against nearly 40 oil and gas companies.
The divestment comes at a key time in American politics as the Trump administration has made a direct reversal of Obama era climate policies by pulling out of the UN’s Paris Climate Agreement and allowing oil companies to set up shop on large swathes of American land. New York City is looking to make a stand against the White House on environment policies by becoming the first major city to pull a large amount of money from oil investments. According to Mayor De Blasio, New York City is “standing up for future generations” by committing to divestment.
On the other hand, oil companies are claiming that these lawsuits are the result of maneuvering by special interest groups looking to force their own political objectives.
Now all eyes are on Washington, the Trump administration, and the courts to see how a federal reaction pans out.