New York City on Thursday sued three major oil companies and the top industry trade group in state court, arguing that the companies are misrepresenting themselves by selling fuels as “cleaner” and advertising themselves as leaders in fighting climate change.
The lawsuit comes after a federal appeals court this month rejected the city’s effort to hold five major oil companies liable to help pay the costs of harm caused by global warming.
The lawsuit said Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), BP Plc (BP.L), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and industry group the American Petroleum Institute “have systematically and intentionally misled consumers” through fuel sales at branded stations as “cleaner” and “emissions-reducing” while not disclosing climate impacts.
“These lawsuits have no merit and do nothing to advance meaningful efforts that address climate change,” said Exxon spokesman Casey Norton.
Shell is “disappointed” by the suit and believes climate change requires “inclusive action from all business sectors, including ours,” said spokeswoman Anna Arata.
The industry provides affordable energy “while substantially reducing emissions,” said Paul Afonso, API’s chief legal officer, adding that the suit is “meritless.”
BP declined to comment.
“The defendants in our lawsuit have spent millions to persuade consumers that they present a clean, green choice,” said New York City Corporation Counsel James Johnson. “But they don’t.”
Earlier this month, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled in a separate lawsuit in favor of BP, Chevron Corp (CVX.N), ConocoPhillips (COP.N), Exxon and Shell, and rejected the city’s efforts to sue under state nuisance law for damages caused by the companies’ “admittedly legal” production and sale of fossil fuels, and said the city’s federal common law claims were displaced by the federal Clean Air Act.
That lawsuit, filed in 2018, was an early effort among U.S. states and cities to turn to courts and use state law to address climate change.