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

California $400 billion

That’s the predicted amount of economic losses to California due to 2018 wildfires. If true, that makes them the most expensive environmental disaster in the history of the U.S.

Imperial Beach, CA 30%

The amount of Imperial Beach — a coastal community south of San Diego that is plaintiff in one of the cost recovery suits against 37 Big Oil & Gas companies — that could be underwater from coastal flooding.

San Francisco, CA $39 billion

The amount of private property value in San Francisco Bay imperiled by sea level rise.

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.