Will the lawsuit be an inflection point in the battle with mega-emitters over climate change?

by Juan Cole, Tom Dispatch

The depths of depravity into which unvarnished capitalism can plunge mortal souls is incalculable. It should come as no surprise then that oil company executives and the officials of petrostates like Saudi Arabia have so assiduously lied to us about the catastrophic effects of climate change. After all, the executives of tobacco firms have been perfectly content to sell consumers a product long known and virtually guaranteed to cut their lives short, while lying about its harmful effects for decades. Likewise, the courts have now made the pharmaceutical industry’s responsibility for and grasp of the opioid crisis that killed half a million people all too clear.

In both instances, state attorneys-general played an important role in seeking redress. Now, Rob Bonta, California’s attorney general, has filed a 135-page lawsuit against five major oil companies — ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP — which could prove an inflection point in the battle against human-caused climate change.

Participants of youth lead climate strike in front of City hall, holding signs and vocalizing demands to address climate change.

On announcing the lawsuit, Bonta said, “Oil and gas companies have privately known the truth for decades — that the burning of fossil fuels leads to climate change — but have fed us lies and mistruths to further their record-breaking profits at the expense of our environment. Enough is enough.”

Born in the Philippines to an American father and a Filipina mother, Bonta spent his early years near Keene, California, where the United Farm Workers had established its headquarters. There, both his father Warren and his mother Cynthia helped organize Filipino-American and Mexican-American laborers. Bonta went on to get a Yale law degree and ultimately entered politics, being elected to the California State Assembly in 2012.

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