Oakland Appeals to Ninth Circuit to Hold Fossil Fuel Companies Accountable for Costs of Climate Change

Posted: March 14th, 2019 12:00 AM

Last Updated: July 10th, 2019 2:51 PM

Oakland, CA – Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker released the following statement regarding the joint Oakland/San Francisco appellate brief filed March 13, 2019 in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

City of Oakland and City and County of San Francisco v. BP P.L.C. et al., Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal Case No. 18-16663

City Attorney Parker statement:

"This lawsuit is about holding the fossil fuel companies accountable for the costs of sea walls and other infrastructure necessary to protect Oakland and San Francisco from climate change – costs that are directly linked to the companies' reckless and unlawful actions under California law. These companies knew for decades that their products would cause severe and even catastrophic climate change, yet they spent the last 30 years telling the world that fossil fuel-driven climate change is a hoax. Our lawsuit forced the companies to admit in court that climate change is a reality, and is caused in large part by their products. But they nevertheless refuse to accept any responsibility for the damage they have caused and will cause to Oakland and other cities. California law is clear: the fossil fuel companies are responsible for the costs of their ruinous actions. Companies cannot lie to their customers for decades and the dangers of their products and walk away with impunity. Our lawsuit presents valid claims under state law and deserves to be heard in the appropriate venue."

Case Background

On Sept. 19, 2017, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker filed separate lawsuits on behalf of the People of the State of California against the five largest investor-owned producers of fossil fuels in the world. The defendant companies are Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp, BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

The lawsuits ask the courts to hold these companies responsible for the costs of sea walls and other infrastructure necessary to protect San Francisco and Oakland from ongoing and future consequences of climate change and sea level rise. Those consequences are caused by defendants’ knowing and wrongful promotion of the expanded use of their products, deliberate concealment of their knowledge of the direct link between fossil fuel combustion and the destructive effects of climate change on coastal communities, and their campaigns to discredit the growing body of scientific evidence documenting the catastrophic impacts of fossil fuel-triggered climate change.

The defendant companies removed the cases from state to federal district court, where the judge denied Oakland’s and San Francisco’s motions to remand the case back to state court, and later granted the fossil fuel companies motions to dismiss. The district court entered final judgment on July 27, 2018. San Francisco and Oakland are appealing the district court’s orders denying the cities’ motions to remand and later granting defendants’ motions to dismiss.

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