California is suing Big Oil over climate ‘deception.’ Could the same happen in Canada?

Date: Monday, July 3, 2023
Complete Article: CBC News


Dozens of lawsuits have been filed in recent years against the fossil fuel industry for its role in the climate crisis. But few compare in scope and significance to the case being pursued in California, the world’s fifth-largest economy and a major oil and gas producer.

The lawsuit argues some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies deceived the public about the risks of fossil fuels and seeks a compensation fund to pay for future damages caused by climate-related disasters in California.

“The climate crisis is, after all, a fossil fuel crisis,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said this week, insisting the lawsuit can help “illuminate [oil companies’] deception and their lies — over the course of 50, 60, 70 years, they’ve been lying to you.”

The long list of allegations in the suit includes false advertising, misleading the public about what the industry’s own research showed about the impact of fossil fuel emissions and delaying the transition to renewable energy.

Andrew Gage, a staff lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law in Vancouver, said the California lawsuit is significant, even if the legal context is different in the U.S.

“Governments increasingly are having to turn to these types of lawsuits to recover the cost of climate change on behalf of their citizens,” he said.

There have been 35 climate-related legal challenges in Canada, according to Columbia University’s climate litigation database, but none against corporations — only governments. Experts believe that is likely to change.

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