San Francisco Sues Big Oil Claiming They Withheld Climate Change Information for Decades.

The US cities of San Francisco and Oakland are suing five of the world’s largest oil companies for the coasts of walls and other defences against rising sea levels, saying the industry made vast profits from fossil fuels while knowing they were causing “an existential threat to humankind”.

Drawing a direct comparison to the tobacco industry’s sale of cigarettes despite knowledge of the health risks, the city attorneys announced they had filed separate lawsuits against BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

The total amount of money needed was “not known at this time but is expected to be in the billions of dollars”, the lawyers said. The lawsuit for San Francisco and the one filed by Oakland both ask the court to set up an “abatement fund” to pay for infrastructure “necessary for the People to adapt to global warming impacts such as sea-level rise”.

Chevron said the lawsuit would not help the fight against climate change and would “only serve special interests at the expense of broader policy”.

Dennis Herrera, San Francisco’s city attorney, said the companies had “profited handsomely for decades while knowing they were putting the fate of our cities at risk”.

“Instead of owning up to it, they copied a page from the Big Tobacco playbook,” he said.

“They launched a multimillion-dollar disinformation campaign to deny and discredit what was clear even to their own scientists: global warming is real, and their product is a huge part of the problem.

“Now, the bill has come due. It’s time for these companies to take responsibility for the harms they have caused and are continuing to cause.”