US climate change lawsuits: Connecticut sues ExxonMobil

Connecticut the latest state to sue over allegations fossil fuel industry deceived public about climate change effects.

ExxonMobil climate lawsuit
Protesters gathered outside ExxonMobil's annual shareholders' meeting last year to protest the company's climate policies [File: Jennifer Hiller/Reuters]

Connecticut filed a lawsuit on Monday against oil giant ExxonMobil Corp for misleading the public over the effects of climate change, becoming the latest state to target the fossil fuel industry for violating state consumer protection laws.

The state’s attorney general, William Tong, filed the lawsuit in Connecticut’s Superior Court, alleging that Exxon violated the state’s unfair trade practices act, deceiving Connecticut consumers about what the company knew about fossil fuels’ effect on climate change.

“Exxon Mobil made billions of dollars during its decades-long campaign of deception that continues today,” said Attorney General Tong, adding that the state “should not have to bear the expense of fortifying our infrastructure to adapt to the very real consequences of climate change”.

Over the last few months, attorneys general from Massachusetts, Minnesota, the District of Columbia and Delaware have sued members of the fossil fuel industry, accusing companies of violating state laws by deceiving consumers about harms caused by their products.

Exxon spokesman Casey Norton said the company will defend itself in court and continue to invest in efforts to reduce emissions.

“Legal proceedings like this waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money and do nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change,” Norton said.

Unlike other states’ lawsuits, which either target multiple companies or trade groups or highlight other violations like fraud, Connecticut is focused on one company and one law.

Tong will examine “all of Exxon Mobil’s deceptions dating back decades” as well as the company’s current advertising and marketing, which he says falsely portray Exxon as working to combat climate change.

The state is seeking “remediation for past, present and future harm from climate change”, restitution for investments it had to make to adapt to climate change, disgorgement of corporate profits, and establishment of a “third-party controlled education fund” on climate change, among other relief.

Source: Reuters