2nd Circuit Affirms Climate Case Dismissal - Climate Litigation Watch

2nd Circuit Affirms Climate Case Dismissal

From Energy in Depth:

“The climate litigation campaign was dealt yet another stinging defeat in New York on Thursday after a federal appeals court rejected New York City’s attempt to revive its climate lawsuit against energy companies. It’s the second major loss in the state for climate liability supporters in less than 18 months after the New York Attorney General’s securities fraud case against ExxonMobil was decisively defeated in late 2019.  

The attorney general’s case was “most notable for … how badly it has fizzled,” a New York Post editorial observed at the time, and Reuters noted today that New York City’s lawsuit “failed to persuade.”

Ruling in favor of the companies, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals stated that the courts are not the proper place to regulate emissions and affirmed U.S. District Court Judge John Keenan’s 2018 dismissal of New York City’s case. In a 51-page decision, the unanimous three judge panel explained that global warming “is a uniquely international concern” that should be handled through federal and international policy, not the judicial branch:

“The question before us is whether municipalities may utilize state tort law to hold multinational oil companies liable for the damages caused by global greenhouse gas emissions….[W]e hold that the answer is ‘no.’”

A Losing Campaign

The Second Circuit’s ruling may be the latest defeat for the climate litigation campaign, but it certainly isn’t the first. In the summer of 2018, shortly before Judge Keenan’s dismissed the New York City’s case, U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed a similar climate lawsuit brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, stating:

“[Climate change] deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case.”

Since then, an appellate court ruling has revived this lawsuit and the energy companies have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case to address the question of jurisdiction.

The next year, the New York State Supreme Court served up another loss for the climate litigation campaign, tossing outthe securities fraud case brought by the New York Attorney General, which signaled the death of the debunked “Exxon Knew” theory. In his ruling, Ostrager concluded:

“In sum, the Office of the Attorney General failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that ExxonMobil made any material misstatements or omissions about its practices and procedures that misled any reasonable investor.” (emphasis added)

That case was touted by activists as a turning point in the climate litigation campaign and was billed as “historic” and the “trial of the century” by media, but its defeat, along with the losses in San Francisco, Oakland, and New York City means that every climate case that has been heard on its merits has been defeated.”

Read the full blog at EID Climate: https://eidclimate.org/appeals-court-upholds-dismissal-of-nycs-climate-lawsuit-dealing-latest-defeat-to-unsuccessful-campaign/