A Juliana Ruling Repeat? Five Things to Know Before California Cities’ Public Nuisance Lawsuit Heads Back to Court

Next month, the cities of San Francisco and Oakland will go before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to resurrect their previously dismissed climate case, once again trying to pin alleged future damages from global climate change on a handful of energy companies. The cities’ appeal is a last-ditch effort to build momentum in their overall anti-fossil fuel movement.

The case began in 2017, when the two cities filed their lawsuits against five of the world’s leading energy producers. In 2018, the case was dismissed for a lack of personal jurisdiction and now awaits appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court. Amid a brutal losing streak for activists pushing climate litigation, here are six things to keep in mind before oral arguments begin:

1. Climate Change is Out of Bounds in the Courts

The timeline for February’s oral arguments dates back to the Spring of 2018 when U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup heard attorneys from Hagens Berman argue that energy producers should pay for an abatement fund to help San Francisco and Oakland pay for costs associated with adapting to global climate change. Hagens Berman’s involvement is significant as it is one of the two main law firms representing states and municipalities in several public nuisance climate change lawsuits across the country.


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