Fossil fuel companies could be facing a Big Tobacco moment.

This fall, Exxon Mobil went to court, facing charges that the oil giant lied to shareholders and to the public about the costs and consequences of climate change. And that’s just one of several legal cases seeking to hold oil and gas firms responsible for their contribution to global warming.

As we discuss with UCLA environmental law professor Ann Carlson in this episode of Political Climate, the litigation could cost fossil fuel companies billions of dollars and fundamentally change the way the world approaches energy production. 

But lawsuits aren’t the only venue for challenging the fossil fuel industry. This battle is also being waged in the court of public opinion, which has put a spotlight on how oil companies can promote their positions on social media. In this episode, we also hear from journalist Emily Atkin, author of the newsletter Heated, about why she and others are angry about the oil industry’s political ads.

With the United Nations COP25 climate summit also taking place this week, fossil fuels are in the crosshairs.

Recommended reading:

  • Inside Climate: Where the Major Climate Change Lawsuits Stand Today
  • Heated: Exxon Climate Ads Aren’t "Political," According to Twitter
  • Axios: To Tackle Climate Change, Clean Energy Isn’t Enough
  • NYT: ‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talks
  • GTM: Spanish Oil Giant Repsol Sets Net-Zero Emissions Target for 2050

Political Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, and thanks to invaluable support from producer Victoria Simon.

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