Climate Misinformation Researchers Throw Support Behind California Communities Suing Fossil Fuel Companies
Just in case fossil fuel companies had forgotten when and how much they knew about the impacts their products have had on the climate, a reminder came at them in court this week.
On January 29, six researchers studying climate misinformation filed one of eight friend-of-the-court briefs in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the California communities suing fossil fuel companies for climate damages.
The dozens of companies, which include a variety of oil, gas, and coal producers and refiners, such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Peabody, are trying to get the cases moved from state to federal court, where similar climate liability lawsuits from San Francisco, Oakland, and New York City have not fared so well. The Court of Appeals is lumping together six suits from California counties and cities while deciding where they should be tried.
Some of the top academics examining fossil fuel companies’ actions and communications around climate change were involved in filing the brief, which rather concisely summarizes the major take-aways from their research in its table of contents.
To sum up even more, fossil fuel companies:
- knew the risks of burning their products on the climate.
- worked proactively to cover up that knowledge and discredit climate science.
- tried to protect their own assets from climate impacts by using the very same science they sought to undermine in public.
The researchers filing the brief include Naomi Oreskes (co-author of Merchants of Doubt) and Geoffrey Supran of Harvard University, Robert Brulle of Brown University, Justin Farrell of Yale University, Benjamin Franta of Stanford University, and Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Bristol, UK. They’re joined in this brief by the Center for Climate Integrity, an initiative that provides legal, scientific, and policy support for affected communities seeking climate damages from polluters.
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