City of New York sues fossil fuel companies over climate change sea level rise

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A suit was filed on 9 January 2018 in New York by the City of New York against a number of major oil companies. It seeks to hold them liable in respect of the cost of sea level rise/flood defences for the city, based on their conduct is causing or encouraging large scale emissions.

This is not the first time that attempts have been made to hold fossil fuel producers accountable for climate change change damage and there were a number of unsuccessful attempts in the first decade of this century, mainly in the USA.

This case is however important for a number of reasons even though the basic allegations are similar to those made before. The legal claims involved are those of tort, public nuisance, private nuisance and trespass. A number of new allegations are made about the knowledge of the major oil producers about climate risks, in the light of recent investigations and disclosures, and reliance is placed on recent scientific work attributing percentage shares of global emissions to particular companies.

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