Courts Should Decide How Fossil Fuel Companies Pay Their Fair Share for Outsized Contribution to Sea Level Rise and Extreme Weather Events, Says Science Group

Statement by Peter Frumhoff, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Dec 20, 2017

WASHINGTON (December 20, 2017)—The City of Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County filed separate lawsuits today in California state court against fossil fuel companies for climate change-related damages. As in cases brought by three other California counties in July, the new lawsuits seek to hold accountable 29 oil, gas and coal companies for damages associated with sea level rise. However, the new complaints are the first to call out disruptions to the hydrologic cycle caused by fossil fuel pollution, including more frequent and severe wildfires, heat waves, droughts and extreme precipitation events.

Below is a statement by Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at UCS. 

“Why should taxpayers and impacted communities alone bear the growing costs of climate impacts when fossil fuel companies have played an outsized role in making the problem worse? Fossil fuel companies knew that their products cause the Earth to warm and the seas to rise, yet many carried out a decades-long campaign to sow doubts about climate change to ensure worldwide consumption of fossil fuels continued full steam ahead.

“Scientists at UCS and other institutions have shown that emissions traced to the companies named in California lawsuits have contributed more than 10 percent of global sea level rise. Now that people are demanding relief from these damages, it’s up to the courts to determine how companies should pay their fair share for the harm their products have caused.”