The City of Paris decided today to explore possibilities to sue the fossil fuel industry for causing climate damages, following the example of New York and other US cities.
The city council also decided to lobby other major cities such as London to ban fossil fuels from their investments through the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, of which the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo is president. The council also announced that it will release an update on the progress that has been made since it pledged to divest from fossil fuels in 2015.
“It’s fantastic news that cities like New York and Paris are stepping up to protect their citizens and hold fossil fuel corporations accountable for the harm they cause. This is a major breakthrough for divestment campaigners around the world that have been pushing cities to take a stand against the polluters wrecking our climate,” comments 350.org France Campaigner Clémence Dubois. Fossil fuel companies like Total, Shell, BP, and Exxon are the driving forces behind more and more severe flooding and summer heat waves in Paris, as well as droughts, wildfires, unpredictable seasons and rising sea levels hitting people across the globe.”
This winter, Paris has been hit once more by severe flooding, which the mayor said was, alongside recent summer heat waves ‘clearly a question of the town adapting to climate change’. Studies found that the flooding that submerged Paris in May 2016 was made almost twice as likely by human-made climate change.
On 10th January, the mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio announced that the city will divest its $191 billion pension funds from fossil fuels and that it has filed a lawsuit against BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips for climate damages.
The moves by New York and Paris, paired with mayor Hidalgo’s pledge to increase efforts to persuade other major cities to divest, raises the pressure on the London where mayor Sadiq Khan has so far disappointed campaigners to take a strong stand against the fossil fuel industry and deliver on his election pledge to divest London City Hall.
Major cities such as Sydney and Cape Town as well as numerous European capitals including Berlin, Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm have already pledged to ban fossil fuels from their investments.
The divestment campaign to get public institutions to cut their financial ties to the fossil fuel industry started in 2012 with the aim to erode public acceptance for the companies most responsible for causing the climate crisis. To date, over 800 institutions including universities, faith and medical groups, the heirs to the Rockefeller oil fortune have taken steps to divest.
Building on these achievements, the Fossil Free campaign is gearing up to launch a new wave of local action around the world to keep fossil fuels in the ground and accelerate the shift to community-controlled renewable energy.
“The Fossil Free movement is taking things to the next level in 2018,” said May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director. “Building off the global fossil fuel divestment movement, which successfully led over 800 institutions to divest over $6 trillion in assets from fossil fuel companies, we’re kicking into high-gear supporting local campaigns around the world working towards a world free from fossil fuels and enacting a swift and fair transition towards renewable energies for all. It is high time for governments worldwide to follow the people’s demand for a fossil free world.”