Yesterday, New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio and Corporation Counsel, James E. Johnson announced the filing of a lawsuit against ExxonMobil, Shell, British Petroleum (BP), and industry lobbyist, American Petroleum Institute, for violating New York City’s Consumer Protection Law with false advertising and deceptive trade practices.
The lawsuit which was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, calls out the defendants for “systematically and intentionally deceiving New Yorkers.” Specifically, the complaint lays out a case showing that the defendants’ product promotions which are positioned to convince consumers that the purchase and use of their products is beneficial in addressing climate change, are false and misleading because they fail to disclose the disastrous impacts associated with the use of those same fossil fuel products.
The case also states that through their aggressive and multi-pronged green-washing campaigns directed at NYC consumers, the named defendants falsely presented themselves and the oil and gas industry as corporate leaders in the fight against global warming, recognising that they can sell more products if they are viewed as environmentally responsible corporate citizens.
The lawsuit seeks relief to stop the defendants from engaging the deceptive practices alleged in the complaint and to recover civil penalties for every violation of New York City’s Consumer Protection Law. The City is represented in this matter by the Law Department and Sher Edling, one of the nation’s premier law firms on the cutting-edge of environmental and consumer protection litigation.
“When oil companies advertise their core products with words like ‘greener’ and ‘cleaner’ while failing to disclose the actual impacts of those products, it impairs consumers’ ability to make informed purchasing decisions,” said Lorelei Salas, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.
Salas added, “Many New Yorkers want to make smart, green choices and these companies have deceived them into believing they were. We cannot allow them to continue to profit from these deceptions.”
Dave A. Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in providing a comment said that Shell, Exxon, and BP recognise that their corporate image matters to their bottom line, and so they are spending millions of dollars to “green” their brand, but not their business. As public officials responsible for the well-being of our residents, Chokshi said New Yorkers must take a stand to safeguard the health of current and future generations.
In 2019, the State of New York had sued ExxonMobil for allegedly deceiving its investors about the cost of climate change. While it did not win that case, it has not stopped the State from bringing fresh lawsuits to prove that the oil giant along with others have not been truthful about this global phenomenon.