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Will Courts Hold Oil Companies Accountable for Climate Change Disasters?


#1

Will Courts Hold Oil Companies Accountable for Climate Change Disasters?

Jason Mark

The attorney for Chevron Oil was attempting a classic bit of courtroom performance: Offer a stunning admission — then make a protest of innocence.

"Chevron accepts the scientific consensus regarding climate change," Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., an attorney for the California-based oil giant, said last month at the Federal District Courthouse in San Francisco. Then he dodged blame, telling the court that it's not energy companies like Chevron driving global warming, but "how people are leading their lives."


#2

Jimmy Dore show. This reveals how the Keystone pipeline leak that occurred in November in fact leaked twice he oil that was initially claimed. This type of thing is ongoing with virtually every such incident. The impact on the environmnet is always understated and this done in collusion with a compliant media.

That the Oil Giants are less then honest when revealing this stuff and that the media works in concert with the same so as to ensure the public never properly informed is NOT on the consumer.


#3

U.S. courts will not seriously hold corporations and/or oligarchs accountable for anything until the U.S. becomes a democracy or republic, which it never has been in its history.


#4

““but they have needed energy for many decades.” At some level, oil executives know a reckoning is coming, so they seek to dilute their responsibility with every gallon of fuel they sell.”
How is this diluting responsibility? Ok so Exxon, BP and Shell knew that their goods increased emissions, which effective atmospheric concentrations and could lead to significant events in the future since 1970. What exactly was the alternative? You honestly think if the public knew they would change to solar? If you think that, you clearly are not aware of the cost nor the effectiveness of solar cells back then.

And for oil? We STILL have zero substitutes for refined petroleum. You think EVs would be huge today? Clearly you do not remember the fact that EVs require batteries, which were horrible in energy density and cost back in the 1970s. So what you just assume that magically along the way we would have figured it all out, even we haven’t today and don’t necessarily even know what we’re looking for to advance the technology? That sounds like some BS.

I understand suing the companies for negligence and fraud, but these suits about major events and technology have very little attributable evidence of fact. Part of this is because its extremely difficult to attribute fluctuations in atmospheric concentration to particular weather events over time, and part of this is because is a wide range of variables that also play a role. Its not just because CO2 is global pollutant or that every industry on the planet contributes, but also that our decisions themselves increase the risk of some of these disasters. How we build cities plays a significant role in flooding in regards to the hydrology of city planning. Does your city contain a significant amount of concrete and not enough permeable soil? If yes, then your chances of flooding increase. Does your city use a considerable amount of water and fail to replace it to the environment in an effective manner? If yes, then your risk of wildfires can increase. Does your city have no building codes for coastal structures in regards to storm surge? If yes then hurricanes will most likely cause significantly more risk to you.


Now we get into what is this claim based on:

“Part of the problem is time. The violent weather patterns we are experiencing now are the result of carbon emissions from decades ago.”

  • What is this claim based on? Are you suggesting that when concentrations reach a certain level they are likely to be responsible for major weather events over a particular period of time? How exactly do you determine the amount of past time, when the persistence rate for CO2 is 210 years.

"“a corporation that makes a product causing severe harm when used exactly as intended should shoulder the costs of abating that harm.”

  • What is this based on, or more specifically to what degree is this based on. If you get sick from buying a product at Walmart, do you get to sue the company that sold the product to Walmart or just the company you directly purchased the product from?
  • Believe it or energy companies pay a lot of money in suits, because typically in the event that a direct accident occurs, such as a pipeline breaks the government will sue the pipeline company or contractor. If the contractor or pipeline company cannot pay the full extent of the fine that then energy company has to fit the remaining bill. However this is not what the CD article is suggesting. The quoted section is suggesting that oil and gas companies find themselves 100% liable for damages caused by selling their product, and they alone pay for the damages.

“Between 2006 and 2016, the percentage of Americans who believed that humans were responsible for global warming went down, even as scientists’ confidence in their warnings increased. Meanwhile, in the last 20 years, ExxonMobil routinely broke U.S. records for corporate earnings.”

  • What is this based on, or more specifically how are these two events connected? 20 years ago Exxon Mobil was two different companies, and typically in a merger will make more money, so perhaps that play much larger role than deceiving people. Can you even provide an estimate on how much this company made as a result of the deceiving the public? I honestly don’t even know how you would figure that out.

“The fossil fuel giants possessed the early scientific awareness, the economic might, and the political influence to shift the direction of human affairs and avoid climate chaos.”

  • Quick question, how do you know for sure that our history is worse than the alternative? What even was the alternative? Ok so these companies tell the public this information- then what? What happens next? You have zero evidence that things would be any better than they are today, only now you are attempting to sue companies and claim that its their fault and we should have changed things for the better. What does that mean?

I’m not advocating with fossil fuels are even taking their side, but you cant just build BS claims around an entity and call it a case. There is a considerable lack of evidence in these claims, and from a realistic and logical perspective it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to sue companies for anything more than fraud.


#5

They might, but the problem is that even if they do, there is no remediation the courts can order now that can fix the mess we are in.


#6

The alternative was to not purposely hide the truth and let the public decide whether or not they wanted to continue down the path they were on.
You need schooling on climate science. Things are not nearly as uncertain as you paint them.


#7

Instead of deliberate lying and trying to hide the truth, they could have been honest. Then we could have started looking for alternatives decades ago. By hiding the truth and refusal to allow funding for the science into alternatives, they have put us into a situation where it might be too late.
Their lying has caused many people to deny climate change which makes it far more difficult to move to a different source. They put profits ahead of telling the truth. It is immoral. And they should be sued for the damage they have inflicted upon us for all the lies and money spent to deny.


#8

I’m not denying climate science, and quite frankly I’m confused how you came to that conclusion from my comment.

“The alternative was to not purposely hide the truth and let the public decide whether or not they wanted to continue down the path they were on.”

  • Which is why my comment literally states that “I understand suing the companies for negligence and fraud”. Yes these companies should be found guilty of fraud and negligence as it applies to the production of information. However, there is little to no evidence that you can find these companies liable for damages caused by a hurricane or flooding.
  • There is currently a lot of studies looking into attribution data, but no published study has been able to conclude that emissions from a company caused x event 20 years in the future. It is incredibly difficult to prove this.

#9

“Instead of deliberate lying and trying to hide the truth, they could have been honest.”

  • Ok and they should be found guilty for fraud, but that’s not the only issue they are being sued for. They are also being sued for damages related to flooding, wildfires, storm surge and hurricanes, which is very difficult to prove based on current attribution data. Furthermore none of their private reports conclusively suggest that their emissions would likely cause x event to occur in the future to this particular area.

“Then we could have started looking for alternatives decades ago”

  • And yet many of these companies actually did this. In the 1970s Exxon actually ran a solar subsidiary called Solar Power Corporation (yes a rather generic name) from 1973 to 1984. Part of the reason for selling this company was due to projections that this company would likely not be profitable until the early 2010s.
    www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/12-105.pdf

“By hiding the truth and refusal to allow funding for the science into alternatives, they have put us into a situation where it might be too late.”

  • Can you please provide a credible source that indicate that these companies refused to allow funding into alternatives?
  • Also note that lobbying for more oil and gas is not the same the thing as refusing to allow funding into alternatives, as their reasoning is most likely sound in that the USA needs energy now (as in the 1970s-1980s following the Energy Crisis of the 1970s).

“Their lying has caused many people to deny climate change which makes it far more difficult to move to a different source.”

  • Ok so they should be found guilty of fraud, but this is not evidence that they are responsible for damages related to storms.

“And they should be sued for the damage they have inflicted upon us for all the lies and money spent to deny.”

  • If you cannot prove that their emissions caused x storm to occur, then how can you claim that they should be liable for damages caused by that event?
  • As I have already explained there are a lot of variables that factor into increased costs for storms.

#10

We can prove that what they did has caused climate change which has inflicted more damage upon the rest of us.
They spent large sums of money to buy influence of representatives to deny climate change which led to denial and refusal to fund any research into alternatives by those representatives. It is the same tactic that tobacco used, buy influence to deny and stop investigations and research.
If we really had spent the money to research alternatives instead of subsidizing the carbon industries, we would be a couple of decades ahead. But they made funding for that research extremely difficult to obtain. It’s not whether they should have funded it, just that they shouldn’t have tried to stop it.
They did the same thing that tobacco did, fight against the reality for decades in order for us to rely upon their product, even though they knew the truth. And that is certainly fraud, where you can also get damages. Even a low ball 10% damage would help pay for the natural disasters that are occurring.
We have gone from spending about 20-30 billion annually for natural disasters to paying over 200 billion every year. Part of that is inflation and part is the amount of damage has increased.
They still are paying representatives to deny climate change which is going to cause more damage in the future. They have paid for bogus research in order to muddy the waters so there is ‘reasonable’ denial. They have spent hundred of millions of dollars to make sure that denial and thus no efforts to do anything is the norm.They do everything they can to discredit the scientists who do the research. Inc. the lie that the scientists are out for themselves and will make a fortune off of climate change. It ignores the reality that these corporations are making a fortune by denying climate change and thus their fortunes are at risk if we pursue alternatives.
By supporting fossil fuel we are picking the winners and losers, they are the winners and we are the losers.
Yes the math is difficult, but I am sure we have some brilliant minds who could work on it instead of just letting these corps keep doing what they are doing. Knowingly harming the life on this planet. It is not just physical damage, but lives that are lost.
I take it that you think they should just be left alone to keep on denying when they know they are lying.