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Should oil and gas companies be held accountable for global warming?

Climate-change lawsuits filed by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland against five major oil companies were dropped by a federal judge in California. The cases were filed against Chevron (CVX), Exxon Mobil (XOM), ConocoPhillips (COP), BP plc (BP) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A) on claims that oil companies which contributed to global warming should be held accountable for it and must help financially in combating it.

The court acknowledged the growing issue of climate change but refused to take the case further by stating that it was beyond the purview of the judiciary and that important decisions related to global warming and such environmental matters lay in the hands of the government and its various agencies.

Apart from the aforementioned two, there are several other cases pending in various jurisdictions against oil companies holding them responsible in large part for global warming. The energy companies have been blamed for causing the public nuisance. However, the judge who ruled in the current case stated that the issue of climate change was much broader in scope than the public nuisance and therefore required a befitting solution.

The oil companies are not the only ones who have faced wrath over environmental issues. In the past, cases against power generation companies and automobile companies over global warming and vehicle emissions have been dismissed on grounds that the pros and cons of gas-powered vehicles and other utilities were the subjects of debates that were not for courts to settle.

Oil companies have enough on their plates with the recent trade war issues and these kinds of litigations put further pressure on them. Shares of Exxon Mobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips were all up more than 1% in today’s morning session.

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