Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The fossil fuel industry "deliberately engaged in a campaign of deception and denial about global warming and its impacts," New York City mayor Bill de Blasio's office said Wednesday in announcing its federal lawsuit against five oil companies.
De Blasio, joined by Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and other trustees of the city's $189 billion pension fund announced the suit, while also disclosing a goal to divest municipal funds from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years.
"New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major US city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels," de Blasio said. "At the same time, we're bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits."
The city filed the lawsuit against the five largest investor-owned fossil fuel companies as measured by their contribution to global warming. De Blasio's office is seeking damages from BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell according to a lawsuit filed to the Southern District of New York Court.
The court papers allege that the five companies have produced more than 11 percent of the world's carbon and methane pollution from industrial sources "since the dawn of the industrial revolution."
The mayor's office said the city will spend money acquired from the suit to protect New Yorkers from the effects of climate change.
The announcement called climate change "the toughest challenge New York City will face in the coming decades" and made note of the effects Hurricane Sandy as an example of the "destructive weather events exacerbated" by climate change.
"This is a first-in-the-nation step to protect our future and our planet - for this generation and the next," Stringer said.
"Safeguarding the retirement of our city's police officers, teachers, firefighters and city workers is our top priority, and we believe that their financial future is linked to the sustainability of the planet. Our announcement sends a message to the world that a brighter economy rests on being green."