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San Francisco sues fossil fuel companies over global warming

[JURIST] San Francisco filed [complaint, PDF] a nuisance lawsuit against five fossil fuel companies due to expected expenses the city will incur from global warming.

The companies that were named in the law suit include BP P.L.C., Chevron Corporation, ConocoPhillips Company, Exxon Mobil Corporation, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC. The defendants were chosen because they are "the largest investor-owned fossil fuel corporations in the world as measured by their historic production of fossil fuels."

The lawsuit alleges that the companies knew of the effects of fossil fuels on global warming since the late 1970's or early 1980's, and the "engaged in large-scale, sophisticated advertising and public relations campaigns to promote pervasive fossil fuel usage."

The lawsuit seeks to order the defendants to fund an abatement program for the building of seawalls to protect San Francisco from rising sea levels. The lawsuit notes that it is not intending to stop the defendants from engaging in their business.

The defendants are accused of initially starting campaigns to say global warming was not occurring and later downplaying the risks and harms of global warming. This was largely done through the funding of groups and researchers to publish reports and make statements questioning global warming.

San Francisco claims that the city will experience temperature increases of 8.6°F, increase current "100-year flood" events to occur 92 times per year, and increase sea levels by 66 inches by 2100. Upgrades to the sea wall are estimated to cost $500 million short-term, and $5 billion long term. It is also estimated that the city will have to spend $350 million to upgrade their sewer and storm water infrastructure.

Earlier this month, the US Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved [JURIST report] appropriations that included $10 million to the UN agency that oversees the Paris Climate Agreement, which is meant to combat climate change.

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