U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Dismisses City of New York Global Climate Change Lawsuit Against Multiple Multinational Oil Companies
Environmental, Energy & Climate Change Law and Regulation Reporter, Volume 1, Number 9
In City of New York v. Chevron Corporation, the city brought state-law tort claims against Chevron Corporation, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell plc, and BP p.l.c. for damages caused by global greenhouse gas emissions. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the dismissal of the action by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, where the case was initially filed. The Second Circuit held municipalities cannot use state tort law to hold such companies liable for damages caused by global greenhouse gas emissions. It stated that because climate change is an international matter dealing with federalism and foreign policy, federal common law should be applied rather than state law. The court also found the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), not federal courts, is granted the authority under the federal Clean Air Act to regulate domestic greenhouse gas emissions, thus making federal common law actions inappropriate. Lastly, while the Clean Air Act is silent regarding regulating foreign emissions, the lack of congressional direction on the topic, along with foreign policy concerns and judicial caution, led to the barring of the city’s claims and the dismissal of the complaint. [City of New York v. Chevron Corporation, 993 F.3d 81 (2nd Cir. 2021).]
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