Microsoft joins Climate Leadership Council that demands fossil fuel companies be granted legal immunity over liability for emissions

Author: Oliver Milman, Guardian (UK) , Published on: 6 May 2019

"Microsoft joins group seeking to kill off historic climate change lawsuits", 2 May 2019

Microsoft has joined a conservative-led group that demands fossil fuel companies be granted legal immunity from attempts to claw back damages from the climate change they helped cause.

The stated goals of the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) include a $40-a-ton fee on carbon dioxide emissions in return for the gutting of current climate change regulations and “protecting companies from federal and state tort liability for historic emissions”.

Microsoft has become the first technology company to join the CLC, which includes oil giants BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Total and ConocoPhillips among its founding members. Handing legal immunity to these oil companies would squash a cavalcade of recent climate lawsuits launched by cities and counties across the US...

Facing rising costs from sea level rise, storms and heatwaves, a growing band of elected officials from across the US have turned to the courts to force fossil fuel producers to pay compensation to ameliorate the escalating damages. Many of these claims point out that firms like Exxon privately knew of the consequences of climate change for at least 40 years, long before it was a public issue, only to deny the problem and block meaningful action to address it...

Microsoft has said it was motivated to join the CLC due to its support for a price on carbon, which it has backed in Washington state and sees as a key method to drive down emissions...

...“We support a carbon fee because we believe it’s a policy mechanism that works and accords with economic principles. For us, joining the CLC gives us the opportunity to have this debate at a federal level.”

Joppa would not be drawn, however, on Microsoft’s support for the idea of handing legal immunity to fossil fuel producers. “There are a lot of details involved and we are interested in being part of the conversation,” he said. “The devil is in the detail. We are looking to take an inclusive approach. We need to transition away from the use of fossil fuels but that isn’t going to happen without the inclusion of the fossil fuel sector.”

[Also refers to Johnson & Johnson, Pepsico, Unilever]

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Related companies: Amazon.com BP Chevron ConocoPhillips ExxonMobil Johnson & Johnson PepsiCo Shell Total Unilever