An unprecedented courtroom proceeding will be the first to put climate science on trial on March 21, 2018. The judge has asked for a tutorial, with briefings from both sides in a case brought by California cities against fossil fuel interests accused of covering up their role in contributing to global warming.
Exxon and other oil companies have already stated that “the risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action.” The oil industry has mostly accepted scientific findings that increasing carbon emissions are warming the atmosphere.
Instead, the hearing and ongoing trial will focus more on who knew what, when, and what they did in response.
“At the core of the plaintiff’s lawsuit is the idea that these companies have long known about risks of their products … yet they took a course of action that resisted regulation and sought to keep them on the market as long as possible,” said [Michael] Burger, the Columbia climate law expert.By contrast, the fossil fuels companies will likely emphasize the uncertainty that existed as climate science evolved, and how they needed “to act in the best interests of their shareholders,” given the uncertainty, he added.