California Sues Car Manufacturers over Emissions ; This Article Is from the (RED) Edition of the Independent of 21 September 2006, Guest-Designed by Giorgio Armani. Half the Revenue from the Edition Will Be Donated to the Global Fund to Fight Aids
Gumbel, Andrew, The Independent (London, England)
The state of California, already in the forefront of the fight against global warming, filed an unprecedented lawsuit against six leading car manufacturers yesterday, arguing mat exhaust fumes caused untold millions of dollars in damage to the state's weather, economy and public health.
The state attorney general's office is seeking unspecified damages from General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota and Nissan because they "either knew or should have known the severe impact their vehicles would have on the health of the planet".
"Vehicle emissions are the single most rapidly growing source of the carbon emissions contributing to global warming, yet the federal government and the automakers have refused to act," California's attorney general, Bill Lockyer, said.
"It is time to hold these companies responsible for their contribution to the crisis."
As a legal strategy, the initiative was reminiscent of the suits filed by both private individuals and US states against the tobacco companies - suits that resulted in hundreds of millions of damages awarded in recognition of the impact of smoking on individual smokers and the budgets of public health facilities.
According to yesterday's suit, motor vehicles account for 30 per cent of California's emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Car companies, it added, were "among the world's largest contributors... to global warming. "Human-induced global warming," the suit added, "has, among other things, reduced California's snow pack [a vital source of fresh water], caused an earlier melting of the snow pack, raised sea levels along California's coastline, increased ozone pollution in urban areas, increased the threat of wildfires, and cost the state millions of dollars in assessing those impacts and preparing for the inevitable increase in those impacts. …