Recently, a Virginia federal appeals court heard a case regarding the role of fossil fuel companies in driving climate change. Major fossil fuel companies face several charges from cities and municipalities across the country. Litigation focuses on the fossil fuel industry’s false and misleading advertisements about fossil fuels’ effect on climate change.
The case in question was filed by the City of Baltimore against some of the world’s leading oil companies. Baltimore city government officials want oil companies to pay for their direct contributions to climate change. In Baltimore, citizens have suffered the devastating effects associated with climate change. The city has also lost millions of dollars in damages caused by floods and heatwaves. Expensive infrastructure upgrades have also become necessary to deal with heatwaves.
Although many cases on the same subject have been filed across the country, many have failed to gain traction. Fossil fuel companies often block state attempts by arguing that climate change cases go beyond state jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court in Baltimore considered the matter last year before handing it over to the federal appeals court. Tuesday’s hearing will affect several lawsuits filed by counties and cities in the Fourth Circuit. The ruling could establish precedence for other cases filed against leading oil companies across the U.S.
As these cases progress, critics are attempting to shut down the action. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, state courts cannot hear a case on climate change since it is a global phenomenon. “State courts are not positioned to decide who, if anyone, is to be legally accountable for climate change, how energy policies should change to address it, and how local mitigation projects should be funded,” The National Association of Manufacturers wrote in a brief.
However, Karen Sokol, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, dismisses this argument. Sokol argues that the case in Baltimore focuses on state laws meant to protect the public from misleading marketing rather than on climate change.
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