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New York City to Exxon: Pay up for climate change costs

New York City delivered a powerful blow to the fossil fuel industry by launching a climate change lawsuit against the...

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 4:06 PM
Updated: Jan 10, 2018 4:06 PM

New York City delivered a powerful blow to the fossil fuel industry by launching a climate change lawsuit against the biggest oil companies and promising to dump billions of dollars of fossil fuel stocks.

New York became the largest American city to sue Big Oil, demanding that ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips pay for the cost of protecting the city from the "existential threat" of climate change.

The city on Wednesday also announced a goal to divest its $189 billion pension system from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years. New York said that would become first major U.S. pension plan to complete such an exit.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, claims the city "already has suffered damage from climate change," including coastal erosion and tidal flooding. It said the city faces "imminent threats to its property, its infrastructure and the health and safety of its residents."

New York said it's "exceptionally vulnerable" to rising sea levels. It said resiliency projects will cost billions of dollars -- money the city doesn't have.

"We're bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

The lawsuit cited recently-uncovered documents about what oil companies knew about the threat from climate change. A recent Harvard study concluded that Exxon "misled the public" for more than 40 years. Exxon has rejected the claims.

Related: Exxon claims California climate change hypocrisy

In response, a Shell spokesman called climate change a "complex societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers, not by the courts."

Conoco and BP declined to comment. Representatives from Exxon and Chevron did not respond to requests for comment.

The National Association of Manufacturers, which represents the oil companies, slammed New York for joining a "politically-motivated campaign to undermine manufacturing in America." The trade group said de Blasio has decided to "play politics with underfunded pension plans" even as New Yorkers have depended on natural gas and oil during the extremely cold weather.

The New York lawsuit follows recent ones filed by San Francisco, Oakland and other California cities and counties. Earlier this week, Exxon launched a counterassault, claiming that California municipalities failed to disclose to municipal bond investors the imminent threat from climate change that they detailed in their oil lawsuits. Exxon said it's the victim of a vast "conspiracy" and "abuse of government power."

Climate activists, who argued the Exxon move amounted to an effort to intimidate local governments, cheered New York's lawsuit.

"New York City today becomes a capital of the fight against climate change on this planet," said Bill McKibben, co-founder of environmental group 350.org, in a statement.

Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said, "New York City's impressive leadership makes me hopeful for the future."

Related: Exxon gives up major climate change fight

New York City's pension system is the fourth largest in the U.S., and controls around $5 billion in the securities of more than 190 fossil fuel companies. The funds invest the pensions of hundreds of thousands of active and retired city teachers, firefighters, police officers and other employees.

"Our announcement sends a message to the world that a brighter economy rests on being green," said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Stringer acknowledged that divesting from fossil fuels will be "complex" and will "take time." City officials plan to submit a joint resolution instructing pension fund trustees to begin analysizing how it can be done in a responsible way.

Various other U.S. cities have committed to divest their fossil fuel holdings. Powerful pension funds such as the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) have also done so. Even Norway's $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, built on the country's oil riches, has backed away from fossil fuels.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 154411

Reported Deaths: 3836
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10409104
Hinds10279202
Harrison7313112
Jackson6566128
Rankin5887106
Lee529496
Madison5014107
Forrest389786
Jones369088
Lauderdale3594147
Lafayette338253
Washington3246108
Lamar297850
Oktibbeha252362
Lowndes247064
Bolivar244384
Panola232653
Neshoba2249121
Marshall222851
Leflore208591
Monroe206778
Pontotoc204231
Lincoln197366
Sunflower192655
Warren180258
Tate177751
Union171926
Copiah167940
Pike165359
Yazoo160140
Scott159430
Itawamba157635
Alcorn155628
Pearl River155368
Coahoma152743
Simpson152653
Prentiss151331
Adams144752
Grenada143345
Leake139744
Holmes133461
Covington128639
Tippah128430
George128325
Winston125526
Hancock124341
Wayne121323
Marion119446
Attala119334
Tishomingo112443
Chickasaw109432
Newton108229
Tallahatchie98127
Clay94727
Clarke93653
Jasper85223
Stone80615
Calhoun78713
Walthall77629
Montgomery76926
Carroll74115
Lawrence73814
Smith73216
Yalobusha73128
Noxubee72717
Perry68326
Tunica62619
Greene61522
Jefferson Davis59017
Claiborne58916
Amite56615
Humphreys54719
Benton50018
Quitman5007
Webster46714
Kemper45018
Wilkinson40522
Jefferson37112
Choctaw3617
Franklin3555
Sharkey32417
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 252900

Reported Deaths: 3638
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33526501
Mobile20103365
Madison13723151
Tuscaloosa13366154
Montgomery12552236
Shelby1079677
Baldwin9051137
Lee787266
Morgan696451
Calhoun6598121
Etowah656167
Marshall647357
Houston541038
DeKalb498137
Cullman462443
St. Clair441956
Limestone440445
Lauderdale426754
Elmore421164
Walker3735111
Talladega370157
Jackson340423
Colbert332042
Blount306140
Autauga281842
Franklin257434
Coffee250015
Dale239054
Dallas231532
Chilton228939
Russell22663
Covington225034
Escambia202331
Tallapoosa187291
Chambers182750
Pike161514
Clarke161019
Marion144736
Winston137523
Lawrence133436
Pickens126518
Geneva12508
Marengo123424
Bibb120418
Barbour118911
Butler118642
Randolph105522
Cherokee105124
Hale98131
Fayette94616
Washington93219
Clay92824
Henry8896
Monroe83011
Lowndes80929
Cleburne78814
Macon75522
Crenshaw72230
Bullock70119
Lamar7018
Conecuh70014
Perry6916
Wilcox64818
Sumter58622
Greene43518
Choctaw43114
Coosa3664
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