The United States Conference of Mayors met in Boston last week, and a key topic was climate change. Mayors have been looking for ways to exert leadership on this issue, but one idea that should be tossed to the waste bin is suing America’s energy producers over so-called “climate change injuries.” These lawsuits, started by a handful of California mayors last summer, are orchestrated efforts to sue companies for doing nothing more than producing the energy we use every day. The litigation’s backers are actively recruiting mayors to file carbon copy lawsuits.
Progressives who care about climate change should not reflexively cheer or join this litigation. The lawsuits, the brainchild of a 2012 conference in La Jolla, California, of environmental activists and lawyers, are driven by private law firms. They seek to make energy companies pay for local infrastructure projects, such as sea walls. Let’s be real: Building a seawall around our coastline and making energy producers pay for it has as much to do with combatting climate change as Trump’s border wall has to do with illegal immigration — nothing but symbolism.