Governments across the USA are suing major climate polluters for the damage caused by their ‘intentional, recklessAnd negligent’ actions, writes Elliott Negin.
As it turns out, they overestimated the time span — and underestimated the price tag.
The Christmas season ends on December 31st Marshall FireBoulder County was devastated. 6,000 acresIncinerating more than 1,000 homes and seven commercial properties Projected cost: U.S.$1 Billion (AU$1.4 billion), making it Colorado’s most destructive fire in terms of property loss.
The Marshall Fire was hardly the only one – or even the largest – in Colorado since the three communities filed their lawsuit, which is still In progressIn a state court. In fact, Four of the five largest Colorado fires were contained.Since then, there have been a variety of acreages. They range from 108,000 to almost 209,000 acres.
Both ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy – an Alberta, Canada-based company – have a large carbon footprint in Colorado.
ExxonMobil has produced more than one million barrels of oil from Colorado deposits, according to the Colorado communities’ Reported, and its subsidiary XTO EnergyCurrently, 60 million cubic feet per day of natural gas is produced from 492,000 acres in Rio Blanco County.
There are also 95Exxon, Mobil gas stations are located in the state. Altogether, the company’s production and transportation activities in Colorado were responsible for more than 420,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions between 2011 and 2015, according to the complaint.
Meanwhile, Suncor’s U.S. headquarters is based in Denver and its Oil refineryProduces 98,000 barrelsThe nearest place to find refined oil is five miles (eight km) away from downtown. Suncor’s gas stations, which sell Shell, Exxon and Mobil brand products, SupplyAccording to a Denver Business Journal article, 35% of gasoline and 55% diesel are sold in the state.
According to the Reported, Suncor’s Colorado operations were responsible for some one million metric tons of carbon emissions in 2016 alone, equivalent to the annual output of more than 217,000 typical passenger vehicles.
The Colorado communities CompeteExxonMobil was aware that Suncor’s products were causing global warming as early 1968, when it was first reported by the BBC. Report commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. oil and gas industry’s largest trade association, warned of the threat burning fossil fuels posed to the climate.
Regardless, ExxonMobil and Suncor not only continued to produce and market fossil fuel products without disclosing the risks, the communities’ complaint charges, but they also engaged in a decades-long disinformation campaign to manufacture doubt about the reality and seriousness of climate change.
‘Defendants’ actions have already caused or contributed to rising temperatures in Colorado,’The complaint states. ‘Colorado has seen average temperatures rise by 2.5 degrees [Fahrenheit]Over the last 50 year, there have been more than a 2 degree increase [Fahrenheit] rise since 1983.’According to the, those higher temperatures have extended the four-month-long western fire season to six to eight months, if it is not all year. U.S. Forest Service. Wildfires are starting earlier than ever, burning more intensely, and destroying more land than ever before.
The three plaintiffs demand that Suncor and ExxonMobil pay ‘their share’Their damage ‘intentional, reckless and negligent conduct’. This share could be worth billions of dollars to cover the increasing cost of heatwaves.
Boulder’s April 2018 lawsuit was not the first U.S. climate-related case against the fossil fuel industry. New York CityAnd EightCalifornia’s coastal counties, including San Francisco or Oakland, had filed similar lawsuits against ExxonMobil as well as other oil and gas companies to seek compensation for the damage they have suffered.
As of today Minimum 27 states, counties and cities have sued major fossil fuel companies for climate-related fraud or damages, or both — and with good reason. The cost of climate-related disasters continues to rise.
The Marshall Fire was only one of many. 20 Weather and Climate DisastersAccording to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2021, there were at most $1 billion in damages. This is just two shye of the record-breaking 22, 2020, and significantly more than that of the average of 6.3 large scale U.S. disasters per annum between 2000 and 2009.
All told, last year’s billion-dollar disasters resulted in U.S.$145 billion (AU$203.5 billion) in damages – 52% higher than in 2020 – and 688 deaths. These escalating numbers have a common denominator. Climate change.
Rachel Licker, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. :
“The fingerprints of climate change were all over many of the billion-dollar events that hit the United States in 2021. We’re essentially watching longstanding climate projections of the past come true.”
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