California’s challenges Big Oil
In yet another bold move to address climate change, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a lawsuit against five leading oil companies: BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and ConocoPhillips, along with their associated trade group, the American Petroleum Institute.
The core of the lawsuit alleges that these energy giants were not only significantly responsible for exacerbating climate change but were fully aware of the potential risks for many decades. Rather than acting responsibly, these companies purportedly chose to conceal the damage, mislead consumers, and oppose renewable energy, all in the pursuit of increased profits. This lawsuit echoes similar legal actions taken by other jurisdictions like Rhode Island, Baltimore, and Honolulu. However, this legal challenge carries added weight given California’s vast economy. Evidence from the 1950s to the 1980s shows that these oil companies had multiple indications about the harmful effects of their products. Their denial and misinformation campaigns allegedly intensified following key global climate events in the early 1990s.
California has expressed hopes that a jury trial might favor public health. If the companies decide to settle, California aims to establish an abatement fund to address the environmental damage the state has endured due to the changing climate.
New York’s Climate Week and worldwide protests
Shifting focus to the East Coast, New York City recently initiated its 15th annual Climate Week. The event, however, wasn’t just limited to discussions and conferences. A massive wave of protesters, numbering between 50,000 and 75,000, took to the streets, demanding an end to the reliance on fossil fuels. Their message was potent and straightforward: discussions are valuable, but tangible action is overdue.
This recent mobilization in New York is noteworthy, being the largest climate demonstration in the U.S. since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The momentum isn’t just national—global protests are anticipated across 54 countries, with an expected staggering 1 million individuals.
This surge of activism coincides strategically with key global events, namely the UN General Assembly and the UN Climate Ambition Summit. The urgency behind these protests is palpable, especially given recent data indicating 2022 is the hottest year on record and the pressing concern of transgressing six of the nine planetary boundaries. Yet, amid the critical challenges, there’s a silver lining: The ozone layer’s recovery, thanks to informed policies and global cooperation, stands as a beacon of hope. Its repair underscores that concerted, coordinated efforts can usher in positive change.
1. Associated Press, “California lawsuit says oil giants deceived public on climate, seeks funds for storm damage,” https://apnews.com/article/climate-oil-gas-california-lawsuit-newsom-212d6d9873352f28094173a1974e3d90 Accessed September 21, 2023
2. The Washington Post, “Massive climate change protests in New York aim to turn up heat on Biden,” https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2023/09/18/climate-week-protests-un-biden/, Accessed September 21, 2023