California opens lawsuit against oil companies

California has commenced a lawsuit against some of the world's biggest oil companies, alleging they hindered climate action in the state.
California oil lawsuit

The Californian Government has opened a lawsuit against some of the world’s largest oil corporations, including Shell and BP, over their role in worsening the climate crisis.

The U.S. state says these companies deceived Californians through misleading advertising, and deliberately downplayed the risk of fossil fuels as early as the 1970s.

It claims this led to a “delayed societal response” to climate change.

California climate events

California experienced several extreme weather events in recent years like floods, fires, and severe heat. This includes a 10-day heatwave last year, believed to have killed 395 people.

The Government says major oil companies have played a key role in the increasing regularity of these events.

The California oil lawsuit

On Friday, California’s Government launched legal action against five large oil companies – Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips.

It claims Californians have suffered, and will continue to suffer, from negative impacts on the climate, driven by oil and gas operations.

The Government says oil executives prioritised profits over the environment, “while sticking taxpayers with the bill for the damages”.

What do they want from the lawsuit?

They want the oil companies named in the lawsuit to make regular financial contributions to mitigate the climate damage caused by their operations.

It’s asked the court to add a requirement ensuring the future protection of California’s environment from further pollution caused by oil companies.

California also requested orders to stop false or misleading advertising, in addition to fines for alleged breaches of business codes.

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