Annapolis Files Climate Change Lawsuit Against 26 Fossil Fuel Defendants

Suit Cites Union of Concerned Scientists Studies on Climate Impacts and Companies’ Deception

Published Feb 23, 2021

The City of Annapolis has filed suit against Exxon, BP, Chevron, Shell, the American Petroleum Institute and more than 20 other fossil fuel companies for knowingly contributing to climate change, which has already caused the city to incur significant costs due to sea level rise. The suit seeks to force the defendants to help Annapolis foot the bill for existing and future damages, as well as the costs of becoming more resilient to climate impacts.

The suit cites Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) studies that document and project future climate impacts in Annapolis including “National Landmarks at Risk” and “Encroaching Tides,” as well as reports that spotlight what Exxon and other companies knew about climate change decades ago and what they did despite what they knew: “Smoke, Mirror and Hot Air,” and “The Climate Deception Dossier.”

“Annapolis is the 25th state or local government to file this type of suit,” said Kathy Mulvey, fossil fuel accountability campaign director in the Climate and Energy Program at UCS. “It shows that people and communities are fed up with having to shell out huge sums of money to address a crisis that these companies knowingly brought on.”

The defendants’ climate deception dates back to at least the 1960s, when the American Petroleum Institute acknowledged the “catastrophic consequences” of fossil fuel pollution but failed to inform consumers or take actions to address the problem. Instead of adjusting their business models to protect communities’ health and safety and avoid catastrophic climate change, the defendants developed a strategy in 1998 to reach the media, public and policy makers with a message emphasizing “uncertainties” in climate science. Companies have spent millions to sow doubt about the causes of climate change and left the public to cover the costs. While bald-faced climate change denial by corporations has largely gone out of fashion, sophisticated and well-funded industry disinformation campaigns continue today.

UCS has the following experts available to discuss this latest lawsuit and the science behind it.

Dr. Astrid Caldas, senior climate scientist at UCS.

Dr. Kristy Dahl, senior climate scientist at UCS.

Erika Spanger-Siegfried, lead climate analyst at UCS.

Kathy Mulvey, accountability campaign director for the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.

If you would like to talk to an expert, please contact UCS Media Director Lisa Nurnberger.

Additional Resources:

•See a June 2019 Yale poll that found 54 percent of people in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where Annapolis is located, believe fossil fuel companies are responsible and should pay for global warming damages.

•See UCS-led research showing how much global average temperature increase and sea level rise can be traced to emissions from the products of ExxonMobil and other major fossil fuel companies. Also see a UCS study on their contributions to ocean acidification.