More than two dozen cities and states are suing Big Oil over climate change – they just got a boost from the US Supreme Court

Date: Friday, May 23, 2023
Complete Article: The Conversation


Honolulu has lost more than 5 miles of its famous beaches to sea level rise and storm surges. Sunny-day flooding during high tides makes many city roads impassable, and water mains for the public drinking water system are corroding from saltwater because of sea level rise.

The damage has left the city and county spending millions of dollars on repairs and infrastructure to try to adapt to the rising risks. Future costs will almost certainly be higher.

Unwilling to have their taxpayers bear the full brunt of these costs, the city and county sued Sunoco LP, Exxon Mobil Corp. and other big oil companies in 2020.

Their case – one of more than two dozen involving U.S. cities, counties and states suing the oil industry over climate change – just got a break from the U.S. Supreme Court. That has significantly increased their odds of succeeding.

The gist of Honolulu’s complaint is that the big oil companies have known for decades that their products cause climate change, yet their public statements continued to sow doubts about what was known, and they failed to warn their customers, investors and the public about the dangers posed by their products.

Were it not for this deception, the lawsuit says, the city and county would not be facing mounting costs of abating the damage from climate change.

The city and county want the companies to help fund climate adaptation measures – everything from building seawalls and raising buildings to buying flood-prone properties and restoring beaches and dunes.

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