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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

Climate and greenwashing litigation has advanced at a breakneck pace and shows no signs of slowing down. Recently, the City of Chicago threw their hat in the ring when it brought suit against several major oil companies including BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Exxon, and Shell as well as industry trade group the American Petroleum Institute. The Complaint – which clocks in at a massive 188 pages – alleges eleven counts against the defendants stating:

“For decades, the fossil fuel industry has misled consumers and the public about climate change. Since at least the 1950s, its own scientists have consistently concluded that fossil fuels produce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution that can have catastrophic consequences for the planet and its people. The industry took these internal scientific findings seriously, investing heavily to protect its own assets and infrastructure from rising seas, stronger storms, and other climate change impacts.”

The complaint alleges that while fossil fuels companies knew about climate effects of burning fossil fuels, they simultaneously chose to protect their own interests while misleading the public through a campaign of disinformation designed to sow doubt about the causes and effects of climate change. This lawsuit joins a number of similar suits filed by municipalities and states looking to win big against fossil fuels. Its length and the number of legal theories espoused convey a shotgun strategy, attempting to capitalize on current popular climate litigation strategies in the hopes that at least a few will stick. It will only take one big win to forge a path and establish a future blueprint for climate litigation. It remains to be seen which, if any, of the pending suits will establish that blueprint.

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The Editor

Zachary Barlow is a licensed attorney. He earned his JD from the University of Mississippi and has a bachelor’s in Public Policy Leadership. He practiced law at a mid-size firm and handled a wide variety of cases. During this time he assisted in overseeing compliance of a public entity and litigated contract disputes, gaining experience both in and outside of the courtroom. Zachary currently assists the editorial team by providing research and creating content on a spectrum of ESG… View Profile