Chicago joins 'historic wave' of climate lawsuits against big oil companies

The city of Chicago is suing five of the world's largest oil and gas companies and a trade group for their contributions to climate change, saying they misled the public that their fossil fuel products contribute to extreme temperatures, flooding and other impacts on city residents.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson's administration filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Chevron, BP, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and Shell, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, alleging that the oil giants did more than just mislead the public, but also discredit to science like the climate crisis.

“The evidence shows that the defendants intentionally misled Chicagoans about the climate change risks of their petroleum products. If left unchecked, climate change could have catastrophic consequences for our city, city attorney Mary Richardson-Lowry said in a news release issued by the mayor's office. "We filed this lawsuit to ensure that defendants who benefited from the fraudulent campaign are held accountable for their actions."

The lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court also names the American Petroleum Institute as a defendant.

City officials accused the trade group of colluding with oil companies to conduct disinformation campaigns knowing the reality of climate change, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"There is no justice without accountability," Johnson said in a news release. "From the unprecedented poor air quality we experienced last summer to the basement flooding West Side residents faced, the impact of this crisis is severe and costly. Surviving it is also very serious." “That is why we are committed to bringing these defendants to justice.”

The complaint alleges ten grounds to charge the defendants with contributing to climate change, including negligence, recklessness, disorderly conduct, civil conspiracy and unjust enrichment.

Chicago wants oil companies to pay for damages

The Chicago Sun-Time reports that the city is holding oil companies responsible for the costs of infrastructure needed to adapt to climate change, as well as property damage.

"These companies intentionally defrauded Chicago consumers in their relentless pursuit of profits," Chicago Councilman Matt Martin said in a City Council news release. “As a result of their actions, Chicago is experiencing extreme heat and rain, flooding, sewage flowing into Lake Michigan, damage to the city's infrastructure, and more.

All this has an enormous cost. But we have both the facts and the law on our side, and we are committed to putting these costs where they belong: on the companies whose fraud led us to climate crisis".

According to the Chicago Tribune, since 2017, cities in Colorado, California, New York, Oregon, Mayland, South Carolina, Hawaii and Puerto Rico have filed similar lawsuits, the Center for Climate Integrity said in a statement.

Since 1980, Chicagoans have experienced heat waves, warmer winters with less snow, more precipitation and less ice on Lake Michigan.

According to the lawsuit, to repair existing damage and build new infrastructure that can withstand more severe weather conditions, the city plans to invest about $200 million to protect the most vulnerable areas.

“The impacts of climate change that Chicago faces and will continue to face include more frequent and severe storms, floods, droughts, extreme heat and coastal erosion,” are being felt in every corner of the city and especially in low-income sectors, says the demand, according to Common Dreams.

The lawsuit says last year was the hottest on record and the number of extremely hot days is expected to increase, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“Big Oil has lied to Americans for decades about the catastrophic climate risks of their products, and now Chicago and communities across the country rightly say they must pay for the damage they have caused. He added Richard Wiles it's a statement. “As Chicago, the nation's third-largest city, joins this fight, there is no doubt that we are witnessing a historic wave of litigation that could finally force Big Oil to take responsibility for the climate crisis. that they deliberately provoked.”

With information Ecowatch y Chicago Sun-Times