Charleston, South Carolina made history this week as the first city in a southern state to sue the fossil fuel industry for their part in damages due to the climate crisis.
The lawsuit is being filed against 24 oil and pipeline companies including ExxonMobil, BP, and Chevron. It alleges that the companies continued their business practices and knowingly contributed to climate change. The suit is seeking compensation from the companies to cover damages due to flooding and extreme weather in the low-lying city.
The lawsuit was announced by Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, who described the companies’ action as “a multi-decade campaign of deception.”
Over the past 50 years, the average number of flood days in Charleston has increased from four to 89 and the city expects to see a sea-level rise of two to three feet in the next half-century. Charleston estimates it will cost $2 billion to adapt to these climate impacts.
Charleston joins 21 other cities and communities across the US that are pursuing legal action against the fossil fuel industry but makes history as the first city in a southern state to pursue such legal action. We recently covered a story about Portuguese youth taking 33 countries to court over climate change. We hope these lawsuits send a message about the urgency of climate action and source funds for a transition to a greener economy.