Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced he will soon file a lawsuit against major oil companies for their decades-long contributions to climate change and environmental degradation. Schwarzenegger, who specifically called out Big Oil for “knowingly killing people all over the world,” is working with several private law firms and developing a public plan for his lawsuit. Announced at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, the news comes as Schwarzenegger prepares to host a major environmental conference in Vienna, Austria, his native land.
Schwarzenegger hopes to repeat the success of a similar legal crusade against the tobacco industry. “This is no different from the smoking issue,” he said. “The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades, that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and were hiding that fact from the people and denied it. Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that. The oil companies knew from 1959 on, they did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels, and on top of it that it would be risky for people’s lives, that it would kill.”
Schwarzenegger believes that the oil companies have a duty to the public to inform them of the risks of consumption. “It’s absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco,” he said. “Every gas station on it, every car should have a warning label on it, every product that has fossil fuels should have a warning label on it.” Regardless of the lawsuit’s ultimate success, Schwarzenegger hopes to at least shine a light on the issue, using harsh words to describe the allegedly guilty party. “I don’t think there’s any difference,” he said. “If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it’s first degree murder; I think it’s the same thing with the oil companies”.