Chicago sues five giant oil companies, accusing them of climate change destruction, fraud

20 Feb 2024.

Chicago is suing five of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, accusing them of lying about their products and the dangers of climate change that contributes to flooding, extreme heat and other destructive forces that hurt the city and its residents.

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court Tuesday that names BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell, accusing the companies of discrediting science and misleading the public as the climate crisis continued to wreak havoc on the planet.

The city is also suing the trade group American Petroleum Institute, which it accuses of conspiring with the companies to deceive consumers through disinformation campaigns even as the industry acknowledged internally that climate change was real.

“The climate change impacts that Chicago has faced and will continue to face — including more frequent and intense storms, flooding, droughts, extreme heat events and shoreline erosion — are felt throughout every part of the city and disproportionately in low-income communities,” the city said in its lawsuit.

Chicago is following the lead of New York, California and other cities and states that seek to recoup potentially billions of dollars in damages blamed on the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas, that create carbon dioxide and have led to climate change. The city has not asked for a specific amount of money.

The city is asking a court to hold the companies responsible for the costs of climate change, including damage to property and infrastructure necessary to adapt.

For instance, the city said it's spending $188 million on climate projects in low-income communities.