Baltimore lawsuit blames oil and gas companies for climate change

Federico Mansilla
Julio 23, 2018

"In fact, they had a responsibility to do both, but they didn't, and that's why we are taking them to court", Davis added.

Baltimore on Friday become the latest USA city to try and hold the world's biggest oil companies financially responsible for global warming, asserting it faces massive costs to effectively protect its residents, businesses and infrastructure from the escalating impacts of climate change. "They could have warned us".

According to the report in the Baltimore Sun, the city alleges that the companies - including BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Citgo, ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil - "knew that emissions from combustion of oil, gas and coal were building up in the atmosphere and trapping heat, and that the greenhouse effect would raise global temperatures and disrupt climate patterns". They could have taken steps to minimise or avoid the damage. "Baltimore's residents, workers, and businesses shouldn't have to pay for the damage knowingly caused by these companies".

Baltimore is the East Coast's fifth-largest city, and features some 60 miles of waterfront.

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The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore Circuit Court, says that Baltimore has been impacted by sea level rise and climate change, leading to "property damage, economic injuries and impacts to public health".

Mayor Catherine Pugh asserts the fossil fuel industry has spent billions to "deceive, delay, distract and attack those who try to hold them accountable for their role in causing climate change". Spokespeople for the other oil companies were not immediately available to comment.

It came a day after a US District Court judge dismissed a similar suit by New York City, saying in his ruling that climate change must be addressed through federal regulation and foreign policy because climate change is a global problem.

"Taxpayers in Baltimore can no longer afford to foot the bill for damages knowingly caused by climate polluters, nor should they have to", responded Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity. As CIEL's Smoke and Fumeswork has shown, major fossil fuel companies have known about climate change and their contributions to it for decades.

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