Chicago Files Lawsuit Against Five Oil Corporations for Alleged Climate Damage and Fraud

Chicago’s playing hardball with five big oil tycoons, accusing them in court of downplaying the climate crisis while they knew their products were fueling climate change. These fossil fuel moguls deployed misinformation to confuse us all while extreme weather events rained down on the Windy City, hitting low-income communities especially hard. In this real-life legal drama, Chicago’s demanding these fossil fuel barons cough up the cash for climate change damages, and it’s channelling Erin Brockovich energy in the fight for environmental justice.

Chicago is taking legal action against five major oil and gas companies, blaming them for climate change havoc wreaking havoc on the city. BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell are all on the hot seat.

The city’s lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, accuses these companies of deceiving the public about their products’ climate impact. The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group, is also targeted for purportedly promoting disinformation campaigns.

Chicago’s climate woes—increasing storms, flooding, droughts, extreme heat, and shoreline erosion—are disproportionately impacting low-income communities, says the lawsuit.

Following in the footsteps of New York and California, Chicago wants to recoup damages from the fossil fuel industry, notorious for carbon dioxide emissions that lead to climate change. The city is asking the court to hold these companies accountable for climate change costs, including property damage and necessary adaptations.

The city is shelling out $188 million on climate projects in low-income communities and wants these companies to pitch in.

In addition to financial compensation, the city accuses the fossil fuel industry of leading disinformation campaigns to challenge scientific proof of climate change. The American Petroleum Institute is singled out for mobilizing “front groups” to promote fossil fuels and undermine climate science.

The lawsuit highlights that 2023 was the planet’s hottest year on record and suggests that the fossil fuel industry led widespread denial campaigns about climate change impact.

Chief Sustainability Officer Angela Tovar reiterates the need for fossil fuel companies to pay for the damage they’ve caused and calls for accountability in this climate crisis.

However, industry officials believe these lawsuits lack merit. Ryan Meyers, general counsel of the American Petroleum Institute, argues that climate policy should be decided by Congress, not the courts.

Pat Parenteau, Professor of Law Emeritus at Vermont Law and Graduate School, warns that Chicago is in for a long fight against deep-pocketed companies; it could take a decade to see any monetary settlement.

The lawsuit also alleges that the fossil fuel industry, similar to the tobacco industry in the past, knew about the climate change threat but chose to fight the science and deceive the public.

Continuing with the deception theme, the lawsuit cites a ConocoPhillips marketing claim that their gas is “better for the environment” as an example. The industry, it alleges, conspired to mislead consumers about the risks of fossil fuel usage and promoted pseudo-scientific theories to refute established knowledge.

The lawsuit also highlights climate-related calamities in Chicago, such as extreme heat, increased rain, and flooding, even citing over 700 deaths from a four-day heat wave in 1995.

Despite the uphill battle, some city officials applaud the move. Chicago Alderman Matt Martin hails the lawsuit as a step towards tackling the significant challenges posed by climate change.

Original Story at