Baltimore became the second East Coast city to file a climate liability lawsuit against fossil fuel companies. It's time for the Carbon Majors to be held accountable for their role in the climate crisis.
The city today filed a lawsuit against 26 oil and gas companies and entities including BP, Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B), even after a US judge yesterday dismissed a similar lawsuit by New York City.
"These oil and gas companies knew for decades that their products would harm communities like ours, and we're going to hold them accountable", Baltimore City Solicitor Andre M. Davis said.
The complaint seeks unspecified damages, penalties and relief. The city absorbed a 7 ½-foot storm surge from Hurricane Isabel in 2003, causing a devastating flood, and had Superstorm Sandy's track changed slightly, a 20-foot storm surge could have inundated the city in 2012.
Undeterred by federal court dismissals of climate accountability cases filed by New York City, San Francisco, and Oakland, today's announcement from Baltimore is a signal that climate litigation will continue until the fossil fuel companies most responsible are held accountable. It says the Baltimore area has suffered two 1,000-year storms within three years.
Rhode Island's lawsuit filed earlier this month remains in state court, though the time period for the many defendants to remove it to federal court has not expired. All are expected to appeal those decisions, but have not yet done so.
The lawsuit accuses oil and gas companies of knowing about a link between climate change and fossil fuel production for almost 50 years, yet working to hide the dangers and protect their assets rather than minimise the damage.
Baltimore is the latest US city to try and hold big 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.
"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.