Full Court Press for Climate Accountability
California leads the pack on climate litigation
With climate cost recovery cases filed by Marin, Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties as well as Imperial Beach, Oakland, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Richmond, California communities are leading the call to hold climate polluters accountable. California crab fishers also joined a precedent-setting climate liability suit against 30 fossil fuel companies for economic losses incurred by four straight years of fishery closures due to warming ocean temperatures.
Update Aug. 2018: While San Francisco and Oakland’s suits were dismissed in July 2018, the cities filed an appeal of that decision with the Ninth Circuit in August 2018. Read more about those suits here
Update Jan. 2019: The suit brought by San Mateo County and other California communities is also on appeal before the Ninth Circuit, which will determine whether the case proceeds in state or federal court. The Center for Climate Integrity, along with leading climate historians, filed an amicus brief in support of these communities. The brief provides a historical account of the fossil fuel industry’s knowledge of the risks associated with their products, and the actions they took to conceal what they knew and discredit climate science. Several others, including California’s Attorney General Becerra, other AGs and Senator Whitehouse, filed amicus briefs in support of the lawsuit as well.
Snapshot of Damages
AG Becerra and Governor Newsom should file suit on behalf of the state
From unprecedented wildfire damage, drought, extreme heat, coastal flooding and sinking beachside communities, California has seen it all. After assessing the mounting public health threats posed by climate-intensified disasters like the deadly Camp Fire, Stanford researcher Dr. Sharon Chinthrajah put it this way: “California is being reset to a new reality.”
This new reality won’t be reasonably priced. On top of profound effects on public health and an unthinkable amount of lives lost, the entire state of California is now submerged in costs brought on by the fossil fuel industry’s products. In late 2018, Attorney General Becerra filed an amicus brief in support of New York City’s lawsuit to hold polluters accountable for current and impending climate damages. Groups on the ground are urging him and Governor Newsom to take action similar to Rhode Island’s Attorney General, Peter Kilmartin, who filed suit on behalf of the entire state.