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NY files suit against oil companies.


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Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City announced on Wednesday that it filed a multibillion dollar lawsuit against five top oil companies, citing their “contributions to global warming,” as it said it would divest fossil fuel investments from its $189 billion public pension funds over the next five years.

The lawsuit, against BP Plc, Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, follows similar lawsuits filed last year by San Francisco and other California cities seeking billions of dollars in damages from rising sea levels due to climate impacts.

 

Can London, Paris and Hong Cong file similar suits?

Will these lawsuits smother the oil companies?

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No oil company I know forces me to put fuel in my car. While we may rightly question the efforts by oil companies to deny global warming and its probable cause, we can hardly blame them for our own addiction to energy consumption.

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7 minutes ago, Area54 said:

No oil company I know forces me to put fuel in my car. While we may rightly question the efforts by oil companies to deny global warming and its probable cause, we can hardly blame them for our own addiction to energy consumption.

More focus on what the victim is doing wrong.

I blame the oil industry for using their insane profits in part to keep their foot on the throat of competing technology, way past the point where society's best interests should have held priority. Responsible people long ago (Carter administration?) should have been helping to create an infrastructure designed to blend fossil and renewable fuel usage so our dependence on oil didn't become an addiction with only one cartel supplying the drugs.

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1 hour ago, Area54 said:

No oil company I know forces me to put fuel in my car.

Designers of car forced you..

Oil company just delivered what made oil-gasoline car to be useful.. (and some of them, lobbied for shutting down alternative sources of energy)..

 

If oil & gas companies want to "survive", build vertical-farms in Africa (or other hot regions of the Earth), and produce hydrocarbons from air, water & sun..

Invest in GMO, disallow them to spread around the world (microorganisms, from farms, not the idea!), and make plants, algae. microorganisms, which will be producing desired compound efficiently straight away..

 

Agreement is: you will invest the all money in making vertical-farms (or artificial lakes of algae), GMO which produce fuels. They consume CO2 from the air to grow. Instead of digging it from the Earth and releasing what has been stored millions years ago..

 

Edited by Sensei
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38 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

More focus on what the victim is doing wrong.

I blame the oil industry for using their insane profits in part to keep their foot on the throat of competing technology, way past the point where society's best interests should have held priority. Responsible people long ago (Carter administration?) should have been helping to create an infrastructure designed to blend fossil and renewable fuel usage so our dependence on oil didn't become an addiction with only one cartel supplying the drugs.

If I understand you correctly you are suggesting that the general public is the victim. If that is your position I call bullshit. I am responsible for my choices and if I choose to use the products of the oil industry, whether for running my car, heating my home, providing "convenient" plastics, then I share in responsibility for the consequences. This does not remove a share of the responsibility from the oil companies, but it is a position that is both more practical and ethical than playing the victim card.

@Sensei The designers of the car did not force me. I am not a child, trapped in a world without freedom of choice. Neither are you. Don't ignore your responsibility.

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1 hour ago, Area54 said:

If I understand you correctly you are suggesting that the general public is the victim. If that is your position I call bullshit. I am responsible for my choices and if I choose to use the products of the oil industry, whether for running my car, heating my home, providing "convenient" plastics, then I share in responsibility for the consequences. This does not remove a share of the responsibility from the oil companies, but it is a position that is both more practical and ethical than playing the victim card.

You're accepting normal responsibility and suggesting the oil companies are also, and correctly suggesting that doesn't make the general public the victim in this scenario. My argument, if you look at it twice, suggests abnormal manipulation of the market by the oil companies has resulted in a predatory approach that stifled innovation and stalled attempts to better integrate competing sustainable energy systems with the fossil fuel infrastructures. Apply some dimensional analysis to this equation and I think you'll see the responsibility for our addiction to oil isn't equally deserved. 

I think market capitalism is a wonderful tool, but when it's not properly (and yes, heavily) regulated, it stifles new ideas in favor of old money. I think we'd be in a far better position right now if we'd supported alternative energies for the last 40 years instead of subsidizing oil.

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Culpability may vary from place to place. Iceland convicted several bankers for being complicit in causing an economic bubble to burst. So far the discussion has focused on whether the NY case has legs. Other cities such as SF think so. We will find out in time. What's the likelihood cities in other countries will pile on by also filing similar suits?

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4 hours ago, Area54 said:

No oil company I know forces me to put fuel in my car. While we may rightly question the efforts by oil companies to deny global warming and its probable cause, we can hardly blame them for our own addiction to energy consumption.

But if they lied to you about the potential danger of doing so, you can't have made an informed decision about whether to investigate other options.

It's one thing to simply not know there would be an adverse impact. It's quite another to know and lie about it.

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1 hour ago, Phi for All said:

I think market capitalism is a wonderful tool, but when it's not properly (and yes, heavily) regulated, it stifles new ideas in favor of old money.

When it's regulated, it's kinda authoritarian regime, not capitalism.. ;) So.. let's me jump in (authoritarian! ;) ).. and tell them "what to do"..

Regulation made by human who is involved in the business is even worser, as he/she will be supporting one party, and rejecting other party..

Large companies have thousands/millions shareholders who are ruling the company. If they will say so, "we want this", CEO, management and directors, have no options, they have to fulfill orders or quit. Current mood is: if they have enough revenue leave them alone..

In the case of global warming and similar stuff, things like revenue from investment, is meaningless..

 

 

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I agree with the issue of Oil Company responsibility where they have discouraged alternative fuel development-- But I still think NY and others are crazy to launch a lawsuit.  They fail to recognize that a huge majority of vehicles currently in service need fossil fuels.  For the oil companies to continue to supply that demand they will simply raise prices to cover what they lose in the lawsuit.  They will be able to do this because, with our current transportation infrastructure,  we cannot afford to regulate them out of business.

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2 hours ago, OldChemE said:

they will simply raise prices to cover what they lose in the lawsuit.

EOM makes more every single minute/hour than they’re likely to lose in any lawsuit. I think your sense of scale here may be slightly off. 

http://www.visualcapitalist.com/money-made-per-second-top-companies/

2 hours ago, OldChemE said:

we cannot afford to regulate them out of business.

Does your accounting include costs of future damages from storms, health issues, wars from drought and famine, etc?

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3 minutes ago, iNow said:

Does your accounting include costs of future damages from storms, health issues, wars from drought and famine, etc?

I'm going to sue the ass off all you internal-combustion engine drivers  for polluting the air I breathe. :) You drivers create the demand that the oil companies supply. This sort of litigation is too early in the game when there aren't sufficient alternatives to supply demand.

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8 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

I'm going to sue the ass off all you internal-combustion engine drivers  for polluting the air I breathe. :) You drivers create the demand that the oil companies supply. This sort of litigation is too early in the game when there aren't sufficient alternatives to supply demand.

I suspect you’re quite right here, though you’d likely have a great case. IIRC, you are a regular cyclist so you’re breathing that shit in by the kiloliter. They’d just blame your past experience with cigarette smoking, though... another industry that used wedge strategies to lie about the effects of their products and delay making required changes. 

Edited by iNow
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7 hours ago, StringJunky said:

This sort of litigation is too early in the game when there aren't sufficient alternatives to supply demand.

I disagree.  I think it's actually too late in the game.  This kind of tough legal action should have been taken far, far sooner. 

We're now firmly on track to hit (at least) a 3 degrees Celsius rise by 2100.  Hitting 2 degrees Celsius was the proposed death knell.  Many climate experts believe catastrophic damage is now inevitable, which is probably why New York feels they have nothing to lose with this move.    

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/ng-interactive/2017/nov/03/three-degree-world-cities-drowned-global-warming

 

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 11.21.21.png

Edited by Alex_Krycek
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14 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

I disagree.  I think it's actually too late in the game.  This kind of tough legal action should have been taken far, far sooner. 

We're now firmly on track to hit (at least) a 3 degrees Celsius rise by 2100.  Many climate experts believe catastrophic damage is now inevitable, which is probably why New York feels they have nothing to lose with this move.    

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/ng-interactive/2017/nov/03/three-degree-world-cities-drowned-global-warming

 

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 11.21.21.png

Yes, I know all that but we still need energy and if the alternatives can't yet supply current demand we need to use the mucky stuff. As long as the pressure is pushing for change and innovation, and production  is going as fast as it can we'll just have to live with the current situation. The goal has been set to rid of petrol/diesel cars in the next 20-30 years by China and Europe IIRC. The only way it can happen quicker  is to have a single, global, totalitarian government. We need someone like Xi Xinping to rule the world for a few decades. :)

25 minutes ago, iNow said:

I suspect you’re quite right here, though you’d likely have a great case. IIRC, you are a regular cyclist so you’re breathing that shit in by the kiloliter. They’d just blame your past experience with cigarette smoking, though... another industry that used wedge strategies to lie about the effects of their products and delay making required changes. 

Yes, going on the road ups my carbon monoxide levels by 2-3 times in less than 15 minutes. At least there isn't lead in it now. Maybe these cases in NY will facilitate faster progress in innovation. 

Edited by StringJunky
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7 hours ago, StringJunky said:

Yes, I know all that but we still need energy and if the alternatives can't yet supply current demand we need to use the mucky stuff. As long as the pressure is pushing for change and innovation, and production  is going as fast as it can we'll just have to live with the current situation. 

True.  But the level of pressure on oil companies has been far too low for far too long.  It's an industry that has stifled innovation, competition, and the acceleration towards sustainable energy for decades.  This makes sense considering how many oil + gas executives have assumed powerful positions within the Federal Government, and how many in Congress take money from the industry, not to mention the financial incentive they have to drag their heels on the road to efficiency.  What level of control does the oil + gas lobby have within the British Parliament? 

Simply put, we're way behind schedule thanks to this industry, so a legislative kick in the pants isn't out of order at all.  We need to make up for lost time.  Countries like Germany, Norway, and even Uruguay are leaving us in the dust when it comes to renewables, not because they are more capable or have more resources, but because they have the political will to get it done. 

Edited by Alex_Krycek
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40 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

True.  But the level of pressure on oil companies has been far too low for far too long.  It's an industry that has stifled innovation, competition, and the acceleration towards sustainable energy for decades.  This makes sense considering how many oil + gas executives have assumed powerful positions within the Federal Government, and how many in Congress take money from the industry, not to mention the financial incentive they have to drag their heels on the road to efficiency.  What level of control does the oil + gas lobby have within the British Parliament? 

Simply put, we're way behind schedule thanks to this industry, so a legislative kick in the pants isn't out of order at all.  We need to make up for lost time.  Countries like Germany, Norway, and even Uruguay are leaving us in the dust when it comes to renewables, not because they are more capable or have more resources, but because they have the political will to get it done. 

The oil companies are shareholder-driven entities that want to see growth and profit. We cannot expect them to act against their own financial interests. It's up to the alternative energy suppliers to create products, and in sufficient supply, that renders the need for oil unnecessary, and then for the consumer to buy those. Democratic governments cannot ordain policy like Xi can. China's got a head start  really because it can fast track policies. My approach to pollution and energy is purely pragmatic.

Edited by StringJunky
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7 hours ago, StringJunky said:

The oil companies are shareholder-driven entities that want to see growth and profit. We cannot expect them to act against their own financial interests. It's up to the alternative energy suppliers to create products, and in sufficient supply, that renders the need for oil unnecessary, and then for the consumer to buy those. Democratic governments cannot ordain policy like Xi can. China's got a head start  really because it can fast track policies. My approach to pollution and energy is purely pragmatic.

I agree.  But when the oil companies have (paid) allies within the government who tilt the playing field in their favor, then that is no longer a free market.  Those who determine energy policy should not be at the whim of narrow financial interests.  In a true Democracy those who set energy policy should be impartial and not beholden to any one industry, nor should they bend to the financial will of those in that industry.  

Edited by Alex_Krycek
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2 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

I agree.  But when the oil companies have allies within the government who tilt the playing field in their favor, then that is no longer a free market.  Those who determine energy policy should not be at the whim of narrow financial interests.  In a true Democracy those who set energy policy should be impartial and not beholden to any one industry, nor should they bend to the financial will of those in that industry.  

Perhaps the crux of the problem there is how politicians campaigns are financed and what they are expected to do once in power in order to preserve their position or advance still further. You need big bucks.

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7 hours ago, StringJunky said:

Perhaps the crux of the problem there is how politicians campaigns are financed and what they are expected to do once in power in order to preserve their position or advance still further. You need big bucks.

In the United States this is definitely the case.  Without getting too off topic, politicians here are paid vast sums of money by private interests who expect a quid pro quo once the politician takes office.  It's not a true constitutional democracy (or Republic, to be technically accurate) in that sense, more of an oligarchy.  There's a sort of "revolving door" policy with government officials.  While they're in office they create favorable policy for their former industry, then when they leave they are rehired in that industry and get a comfortable position in exchange for their service.

Edited by Alex_Krycek
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9 hours ago, StringJunky said:

I'm going to sue the ass off all you internal-combustion engine drivers  for polluting the air I breathe. :) You drivers create the demand that the oil companies supply. This sort of litigation is too early in the game when there aren't sufficient alternatives to supply demand.

Because litigation is such a speedy process, and the result will be no gasoline for anybody? Seriously?

Does anyone remember tobacco, back before it was litigated out of existence?

7 hours ago, StringJunky said:

The oil companies are shareholder-driven entities that want to see growth and profit. We cannot expect them to act against their own financial interests. It's up to the alternative energy suppliers to create products, and in sufficient supply, that renders the need for oil unnecessary, and then for the consumer to buy those. Democratic governments cannot ordain policy like Xi can. China's got a head start  really because it can fast track policies. My approach to pollution and energy is purely pragmatic.

Energy conglomerates have the capability of developing alternative sources. They simply chose not to. Ultimately, it will be that this was not in their best interest.

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5 minutes ago, swansont said:

Because litigation is such a speedy process, and the result will be no gasoline for anybody? Seriously?

Does anyone remember tobacco, back before it was litigated out of existence?

Right now, people need fossil fuel. Conflating one essential product with a non-essential one is not a good choice.  Don't for one second think I'm supporting the oil companies that they need to survive. 

Edited by StringJunky
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3 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Right now, people need fossil fuel. Conflating one essential product with a non-essential one is not a good choice.  Don't for one second think I'm supporting the oil companies that they need to survive. 

How fast do you think this litigation will proceed, and how much money would be paid in damages? Unless that time frame is short and the damages are along the lines of the net worth of the company, there is no danger of oil companies going away. BP survived the Deepwater Horizon mess. 

Gasoline may end up being more expensive, but that just makes alternatives more attractive.

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Solar panels are less expensive than coal or oil fired power plans in some locations. Anything that increases the price will make renewable power a better option for more locations. Moreover increased gasoline prices will drive auto purchase towards the EV market. Reduced demand for petrol vehicles will ensue. Several countries have already said they will begin to restrict sales of petrol vehicles by statute. The US is being left behind, unfortunately.

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