On a High Note: Honolulu Judge Rules Against Big Oil in Climate Case

On a High Note: Honolulu Judge Rules Against Big Oil in Climate Case

In another reminder that the judicial system is an important battleground in the climate fight, Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Crabtree ruled in favor of the city and county of Honolulu in its legal case to hold Big Oil companies responsible for climate change impacts on the island, reports Honolulu Civil Beat. Using state tort law, the plaintiffs have alleged that the companies failed to fulfill their duty to disclose information in their decades-long campaign to misinform the public about the effects of fossil fuels on climate change. Judge Crabtree refused to dismiss the case amid defense by Chevron, Sunoco, ExxonMobil, and other defendants that the lawsuit should be a federal case because it relates to emissions.

Crabtree stated in his ruling, "As this court understands it, Plaintiffs do not ask for damages for all effects of climate change; rather, they seek damages primarily for the effects of climate change allegedly caused by Defendants’ breach of long-recognized duties.”

While Crabtree's ruling is a first of its kind against Big Oil, it's not the first time these oil giants have been brought to court. In October of last year, industry leaders were asked to testify in Congress about misinformation campaigns but largely evaded the questions.

“This is a big and important win. Not only in the sense of legal justice, but also for our local residents,” stated Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters. “... the oil companies that deceived the public for decades should be the ones helping pick up the tab … not our taxpayers.”

Now This: Sheldon Whitehouse on Greenwashing and Fossil Fuel Industry, May 14, 2021.

Al Jazeera: Should fossil fuel advertising be regulated?, October 20, 2021.

VICE: The Fossil Fuel Industry Wants You to Think It’s Solving Climate Change, July 14, 2021.

ENDEVR: How Oil Companies Hid the Truth About Climate Change (Documentary), November 24, 2021.