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Miami Climate Alliance Launches Pay Up Climate Polluters Campaign

County leaders must demand accountability from oil, gas, and power companies on climate change costs

Miami, FL —

The Miami Climate Alliance and the Center for Climate Integrity today announced the launch of Pay Up Climate Polluters Miami, a campaign to hold climate polluters accountable for the damages they’ve caused in Florida. In advance of the launch, the campaign took out billboards in Miami that ask

Pay Up Climate Polluters Miami Billboard

“Companies like Florida Power & Light and other utilities knowingly produce and sell products that cause climate impacts such as sea level rise and more extreme weather,” said Maggie Fernandez, current Miami Climate Alliance steering committee chair and President of Sustainable Miami. “Climate polluters should help pay their fair share for costly climate damages, so taxpayers in Miami aren’t left holding the check.”

Miami-Dade is ground zero for climate change impacts, such as sea level rise and storm surge. Just last year, Hurricane Irma left many Miami residents without power for up to 12 days, and caused an estimated $65 billion worth of damages to homes, businesses, and beaches throughout the Southeast. Last year, in order to raise funds required to plan for and adapt to climate change, Miami residents passed a $192 million bond measure to help the city prevent flooding and mitigate sea level rise. Miami Beach also invested half a billion dollars to upgrade sewer and stormwater infrastructure.

Pay Up Climate Polluters Miami believes those costs represent only a fraction of the damages taxpayers have and will pay. That’s why it’s demanding Miami-Dade County account for costs associated with past, present, and future climate damages.

“While it is easier to calculate the costs extending from climate impacts like sea level rise, taxpayers remain largely in the dark as to how much climate change is really costing them,” said David McDougal, Miami Climate Alliance Founding Member and Treasurer. “Taxpayers deserve a full picture of how much climate change has and will cost them, so they can make an educated decision about how to split the bill with those who are responsible.”

Evidence shows that oil, gas, and power companies – including some Florida utility companies – knew their products caused climate change as early as the 1970s. These companies continue to sell a product that’s the primarily cause of climate change while attempting to stick ratepayers with costs arising from climate change. At the same time, the companies obstruct action to transition to clean, renewable energy. For example, in 2016, FPL helped bankroll the entire failed campaign to undermine Amendment 1. Following Hurricane Irma – whose damages were exacerbated by climate change – the utility even went as far as to try and push the costs from the storm off onto ratepayers.

“When utility giants like FPL incur unexpected costs or damages, they will frequently pass them along to ratepayers,” said Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity. “Taxpayers in Miami-Dade should take cues from cities like New York, which recently sued the oil and gas industry for climate change, and consider returning the favor by demanding that FLP help foot the bill for the damages they’ve caused to Miami.”

In January, New York City joined a growing list of cities and counties standing up to climate polluters, and suing them for their fair share of the costs of climate change. You can find a full list of cities that have filed suit below:

California

  • January 2018: Richmond, CA sues 29 oil and gas companies for climate impacts, including sea level rise (More info can be found here).
  • December 2017: Santa Cruz sues 29 oil and gas companies for climate impacts, including drought and wildfires (Legal filing can be found here).
  • September 2017: San Francisco & Oakland sue five big oil companies over threat of climate change (Legal filings can be found here).
  • July 2017: Imperial Beach, and San Mateo and Marin Counties sue oil companies over threat rising sea level poses to their communities. (Legal filings can be found here).

New York City

  • January 2018: New York City sues five oil and gas companies for climate damages (More info can be found here).