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New York City sues 'polluting' Shell, BP and others

13 January, 2018, 01:25 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio authorized a lawsuit against five major oil companies yesterday, hoping to recoup the costs imposed on the city by climate change.

New York City's "toughest challenge" may be climate change in the coming decades.

In December, the United States did not attend worldwide climate talks in Paris, at which countries announced they were boosting investment in green energy and divesting from fossil fuels. Seven Californian coastal towns have filed similar cases, and a group of kids is also suing oil companies and the federal government for failing to protect the environment.

"This is what climate leadership looks like", said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club.

"This city is standing up and saying, 'We're going to take our own actions to protect our own people, '" the mayor said, wearing a green necktie and sitting in front of large green sign that said "NYC: Leading the Fight Against Climate Change".

So far, that has not been the response.

ExxonMobil asked the Tarrant County District Court in Fort Worth to allow it to depose several California officials and others. Curtis Smith, a Shell spokesman, said the courts are not the venue to address climatechange.

BP and ConocoPhillips declined to comment. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue that requires global engagement. "Lawsuits of this kind - filed by trial attorneys against an industry that provides products we all rely upon to power the economy and enable our domestic life - simply do not do that". "Should this litigation proceed, it will only serve special interests at the expense of broader policy, regulatory and economic priorities", Braden Reddall, senior external affairs advisor, downstream, midstream and corporate affairs for Chevron Corp. told CSD.

Once trustees from each of New York City's five pension funds have been given an analysis of the proposed divestment, and the risk and return characteristics of the portfolio have been addressed by the Office of the City Comptroller's Bureau of Asset Management (BAM), they will seek legal opinion regarding whether the divestment would comply with fiduciary duties to beneficiaries.

The oil majors largely dismissed the suit.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announces a lawsuit against five oil companies at a press conference on January 10, 2018. Let's be clear: "That's where it came from", he said. "That is what it means in human and real terms".

While the New York City retirement systems remains grossly underfunded, the city comptroller continues to devote a disproportionate amount of official resources toward undermining numerous funds' own portfolio companies through the near-constant filing of various shareholder proposals.

"I think we're at the point where we need to get over the conversation of who believes and who doesn't, and move to a conversation about solutions", Gerard said, referring to climate change. "And what a frightful disgusting way to profit in a way that has put so many people's lives in danger".

"It's time that they are held accountable", de Blasio said. "If we no longer assume that fossil fuels are innocent, if we no longer assume we have to keep investing in them, that changes the conversation".

The city on Wednesday also announced a goal to divest its $189 billion pension system from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years.

Scott Stringer, the city comptroller and the funds' primary custodian, has now announced plans to divest New York City's two largest pension funds, irrespective of the potential for weaker fund performance.

The city now spends millions of dollars dealing with the effects of disasters caused by climate change, according to writer and activist Naomi Klein, author "No Is Not Enough" and co-founder of The Leap.


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