New York City has filed a lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell ( RDS.A ), BP ( BP ), Chevron ( CVX ), ConocoPhillips ( COP ) and ExxonMobil ( XOM ) over their impact on global warming. The city also said it plans to divest its funds from fossil fuel companies within five years.
"Recently uncovered documents make it clear that the fossil fuel industry was well aware of the effects that burning fossil fuels would have on the planet's atmosphere and the expected impacts of climate change as far back as at least the 1980s," New York City said in a statement. "Nonetheless, they deliberately engaged in a campaign of deception and denial about global warming and its impacts, even while profiting from the sale of fossil fuels and protecting their own assets from the effects of rising seas and a changing climate."
The city said that it is seeking damages from the companies for the "billions of dollars the City will spend to protect New Yorkers from the effects of climate change," including "damages to pay for harm that we've already seen and damages that are necessary to address harm we expect to happen over the course of this century."
It said that to recover from past harm and prepare for future events, New York City is already executing a more-than-$20 billion resiliency program to protect New Yorkers and build resilience against rising seas, more powerful storms and hotter temperatures.
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer and other trustees of the city's $189 billion pension funds announced a goal to divest city funds from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years, which would make New York City the first major US pension plan to do so.
In total, the city's five pension funds hold roughly $5 billion in the securities of more than 190 fossil fuel companies.
ExxonMobil said in a blog post that lawsuits do not reduce greenhouse gases, while noting that the company believes that the risk of climate change is real and is "committed to being part of the solution." It also said it supports the Paris accord.