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Exxon, Shell, Chevron sued over climate change

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,Court case: Customers refuel at a Chevron petrol station in San Francisco, California. The company is one of five being sued in New Jersey for misleading the public on the impact of fossil fuels on global warming. — Bloomberg

NEW YORK: Five of the world’s biggest oil and gas producers are being sued by New Jersey for allegedly deceiving the public about the impact of petroleum on global warming, joining other states that are seeking to hold the industry legally accountable for climate change.

Exxon Mobil Corp, Shell Oil Co, Chevron Corp, BP Plc and ConocoPhillips are accused of “systematically concealing and denying their knowledge that fossil fuel consumption could have a catastrophic impact on the climate,” leading to sea rise, flooding and extreme weather that have battered the state, New Jersey attorney general Matthew J. Platkin said on Tuesday in a statement.

Their “awareness of the negative impacts of fossil fuel consumption almost exactly tracks the onset of the Great Acceleration,” Platkin said.

“This means that the defendants have known for more than 50 years that greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuel products would have significant adverse impacts on the earth’s climate and sea levels.

“Legal proceedings like this waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money and do nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change,” Exxon Mobil spokesperson Casey Norton said.

“Exxon Mobil will continue to invest in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while meeting society’s growing demand for energy.”

A lawyer for Chevron, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr, called the suit a “distraction from the serious problem of global climate change, not an attempt to find a real solution.

“Chevron believes that the claims asserted are legally and factually meritless, and will demonstrate that in court,” he said in a statement.

“In the meantime, Chevron will continue working with other stakeholders in the public and private sectors to craft real solutions to global climate change.”

Shell, in a statement, said “addressing a challenge as big as climate change requires a truly collaborative, society-wide approach.”

It added: “We do not believe the courtroom is the right venue to address climate change, but that smart policy from government, supported by action from all business sectors, including ours, and from civil society, is the appropriate way to reach solutions and drive progress.”

BP and ConocoPhillips declined to comment. The lawsuit, filed in Tuesday in state court in Trenton, also named as a defendant the American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group.

“The record of the past two decades demonstrates that the industry has achieved its goal of providing affordable, reliable American energy to United States consumers, while substantially reducing emissions and our environmental footprint,” the API said in a statement. “Any suggestion to the contrary is false.”

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