Al Gore, US Attorneys Generals Announce Historic Pursuit Of Climate Change Deniers: Why Canadians Should Care

Earlier this week, former U.S. vice president Al Gore and several U.S. state attorneys generals announced “historic effort to combat climate change.” They’re going after climate change-denying fossil fuel giants.

“We have heard the scientists. We know what’s happening to the planet,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman during a press conference in New York on Tuesday. “There is dispute, but there is confusion – and confusion sowed by those with an interest in profiting from the confusion, and creating misperceptions in the eyes of the American public that really need to be cleared up.”

The coalition of 17 states will pursue litigation against prominent oil companies such as ExxonMobil, which is already being investigated for alleged climate related fraud by Schneiderman.

According to Inside Climate News, back in the 70s, the oil giant’s research found that “carbon dioxide from the world’s use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity,” and then:

Toward the end of the 1980s, Exxon curtailed its carbon dioxide research. In the decades that followed, Exxon worked instead at the forefront of climate denial. It put its muscle behind efforts to manufacture doubt about the reality of global warming its own scientists had once confirmed. It lobbied to block federal and international action to control greenhouse gas emissions. It helped to erect a vast edifice of misinformation that stands to this day.

A 2013 study found that a mere 90 of the world’s leading fossil fuel companies are responsible for 63 per cent of all greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere between 1751 and 2010. According to the study, these companies currently “possess fossil fuel reserves that will, if produced and emitted, intensify anthropogenic climate change.”

The Americans’ pursuit of deep-pocketed climate deniers is likely to resonate with progressive Canadians.

In December, Stephen Lewis, the former Canadian Ambassador to the UN and chair of the 1988 World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere, and five other prominent Canadians, called on the Commissioner of Competition to investigate climate change deniers.

The group’s complaint (pdf) accused climate deniers of hindering “the ability of Canadians to make rational, informed decisions” about climate change science by manufacturing and spreading “false and misleading representations.”

The latest report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Jean-Denis Fréchette, pegs the annual public cost of climate change-related “weather events”, including hurricanes, convective storms (wind, rain and hail), winter storms and floods, at $4.92 billion.

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad

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