Lawyers for major oil companies pressed a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by New York City pursuing to hold them financially accountable for the damages caused by global warming. Theodore Boutrous, a lawyer for Chevron Corporation, states “They’re basically asking the court to recognize a tort that would hold (the oil companies) responsible for the way civilization and humankind have developed over the ages.” He also claims that the lawsuit was an effort to hold the oil companies responsible for carbon emissions all over the world since the industrial revolution. New York City sued Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp, BP Plc, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc and announced that it planned to get rid of fossil fuel investment from its $189 billion public income funds over the next five years.
New York City claimed that the companies knew all along that carbon emissions caused global warming and yet continue to promote fossil fuels while pushing public relations efforts to disbelieve science on the hazards of climate changes. The city states that it must spend billions of dollars to safeguard against flooding and other risks of global warming and wants money to compensate the damages. Theodore Boutrous argues that New York City was wrong to bring these claims under state laws because federal law administrates carbon emissions. He also argued that a court would not be able to decide the complex political concerns that go into addressing global warming. He states “Global warming is a very important issue. It’s a thorny problem. Lawsuits are not the way to deal with this.”
Matthew Pawa, a lawyer for New York City, said that the oil companies have contributed to a public bother under state law, and defined it as “an unreasonable interference with rights common to the public.” He also denied that the lawsuit wanted to hold the companies responsible for emissions going back centuries, saying the city only argued they became accountable once they knew of fossil fuels’ hazards.