For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Amanda Kistler, akistler@ciel.org, 202.742.5832

CIEL Statement on Baltimore Climate Lawsuit

WASHINGTON - Today, the city of Baltimore filed a climate lawsuit in state court against 26 fossil fuel companies, including BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and ConocoPhillips, for damages caused by climate change. Baltimore is facing increasing costs of adapting to climate change, as rising sea levels, flooding, and more frequent and severe storms threaten Baltimore’s waterfront communities, port, and Harbor. The city’s lawsuit is the 13th such climate lawsuit in the United States, seeking to hold major oil and gas companies accountable for their contributions to climate change.

According to the complaint, fossil fuel companies knew about the harms caused by their products for nearly 50 years, but hid this information from the public, undermined public support for regulation to prevent climate change, and engaged in campaigns to ramp up fossil fuel usage. At the same time, they used their own research to take steps to protect their own assets from climate change.

Baltimore City Solicitor Andre M. Davis says, “The problem is that the companies knew of the harm decades ago…These companies hid knowledge of the harms from elected officials, from ordinary citizens, and refused to disclose the information that, if it had been disclosed, the problem of climate change could have been mitigated significantly.”

Lisa Anne Hamilton, Director of Climate & Energy at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), issued the following statement:

Undeterred by federal court dismissals of climate accountability cases filed by New York City, San Francisco, and Oakland, today’s announcement from Baltimore is a signal that climate litigation will continue until the fossil fuel companies most responsible are held accountable. With the evidence for holding fossil fuel companies responsible for climate change growing every day, cities and states across the country are stepping up to demand justice for their constituents.

Climate change poses increasingly urgent and calamitous risks to Baltimore residents and other communities on the frontlines of climate change around the world. In just the past two years, the Baltimore area was hit by two catastrophic “once in a 1,000 year” storms. As CIEL’s Smoke and Fumeswork has shown, major fossil fuel companies have known about climate change and their contributions to it for decades. But instead of warning the public of those risks, they financed misinformation campaigns and fought regulations that could have helped prevent the kinds of impacts that cities like Baltimore are already facing. If the companies most responsible for climate change knew the risks of their products and failed to warn the public, tax-payers alone should not have to bear the costs of a changing climate. It’s time for the Carbon Majors to be held accountable for their role in the climate crisis.

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Since 1989, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) has worked to strengthen and use international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human health, and ensure a just and sustainable society.

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