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California Files Lawsuit Against Chevron, Exxon, Shell, and Others for Climate Change Deception

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California Takes Legal Action Against Major Oil Companies for Climate Change Deception

The state of California has filed a significant lawsuit against major oil companies, accusing them of perpetuating climate change through a decades-long disinformation campaign. The 135-page legal complaint, filed by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, alleges that five big oil companies, including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell, along with the American Petroleum Institute, intentionally concealed the correlation between fossil fuel production and climate change. California claims that this cover-up has delayed the public's response to climate change, exacerbating natural disasters and resulting in billions of dollars in recovery costs.

Implications for the Oil Companies

The entrance of California into this legal arena carries significant weight due to the state's frequent and severe extreme weather events. If the oil companies are found liable, the damages they may face could be substantial compared to cases in smaller states. Korey Silverman-Roati, a senior fellow at Columbia University's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, believes that California's involvement could motivate other jurisdictions to file similar lawsuits.

Timing and Legal Landscape

This lawsuit comes after a Supreme Court ruling in April denied appeals from five oil companies to have similar cases heard in federal court. The ruling indicates that the California suit will likely remain at the state level. The support of California Governor Newsom further underscores the significance of this legal action.

Claims and Denials

The complaint filed by the California Attorney General's office demands remedies based on seven claims, including false advertising and the destruction of natural resources. The defendants, however, have denied the allegations, claiming that the lawsuit is politically motivated. Chevron argues that climate change requires a coordinated international policy response, while Shell maintains that its position on climate change has been public for decades. BP declined to comment, and ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil have not yet responded to comment requests.

Legal Precedents and Implications

The California lawsuit follows the legal model of past litigation against industries that falsely advertised their products as safe, such as the cases against opioid and tobacco companies. State courts have a history of adjudicating whether deceptive actions by companies are illegal. The outcome of this legal fight will shed light on the extent to which companies can be held accountable for concealing the dangers of their products. In conclusion, California's lawsuit against major oil companies for climate change deception marks a significant legal battle. The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for the accountability of industries in misleading the public about the environmental impact of their activities.


The lawsuit filed by California against major oil companies could have significant implications for new businesses, particularly those in industries with potential environmental impacts. This case underscores the importance of transparency and honesty in communicating the environmental implications of business operations.

Implications for New Businesses

For new businesses, this lawsuit serves as a stark reminder of the potential legal and reputational risks associated with misleading the public about environmental impacts. It emphasizes the need for businesses to be proactive in assessing and communicating their environmental footprint.
Future Considerations
The outcome of this case could set a precedent for future litigation against businesses that fail to accurately disclose their environmental impact. It could potentially motivate more jurisdictions to take legal action against companies that mislead the public about their environmental practices. In conclusion, the California lawsuit against major oil companies serves as a wake-up call for new businesses. It highlights the importance of transparency and accountability in business operations, particularly in relation to environmental impact. As the business landscape continues to evolve, it is crucial for new businesses to prioritize sustainable and ethical practices to mitigate potential legal and reputational risks.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/09/18/california-sues-chevron-exxon-oil-giants-on-climate-change-deception.html
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