U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil goes on trial in New York Tuesday on charges it lied to investors about financial cost of fighting global warming.
The lawsuit, filed by the New York state attorney general, contends Exxon deliberately underestimated the cost to the company if governments implement action to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
The lawsuit says the Exxon wanted to avoid having to publically devalue the company’s assets which could have cost it billions of dollars.
It also alleges Exxon’s top executives, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, knew they were misleading investors.
“If companies like Exxon accurately account for the necessary degree of regulation to prevent even more dangerous global warming from happening, it will make less and less sense to continue to invest in developing fossil fuel projects,” Colombia University expert in climate change law Michael Burger says.
Exxon denies any wrongdoing and calls the attorney general’s case “misleading” and a deliberate misrepresentation.
“We tell investors through regular disclosures how the company accounts for risks associated with climate change. We are confident in the facts and look forward to seeing our company exonerated in court,” an Exxon spokesman says.