California Attorney General Seeks Oil Companies’ Profits in Climate Lawsuit

California’s Attorney General, Rob Bonta, has escalated legal action against major oil companies, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, and ConocoPhillips, accusing them of deceptive practices regarding climate change. On June 10, 2024, Bonta sought to enforce a new state law allowing for the recovery of profits earned, while allegedly violating laws against unfair competition and false advertising. The lawsuit, initially filed in 2023, contends that these energy giants misled consumers about their contributions to climate change, causing significant financial damages estimated in the tens of billions of dollars.

The oil and gas industry, represented by the American Petroleum Institute (API), dismissed the lawsuit as meritless and criticized the legal approach, arguing that climate policy should be decided by Congress rather than through court battles. Shell emphasized the need for a collaborative societal approach to address climate change, while ConocoPhillips refrained from commenting on ongoing litigation. This legal action coincides with heightened scrutiny on corporate climate accountability, as evidenced by recent activist shareholder engagements and legislative probes into the industry’s practices.

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