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Climate-Change Victims, NGOs, File Criminal Complaint in France Against TotalEnergies Alleging Fatal Climate Impacts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Eight climate change victims and three non-governmental organizations today filed a complaint in Paris alleging that, by contributing to climate change’s fatal impacts on human and non-human lives, TotalEnergies SE’s board of directors and main shareholders have committed criminal offenses under French law, including deliberately endangering the lives of others and involuntary manslaughter. The complaint, put forward by BLOOM, Santé Planétaire, both based in France, and Nuestro  Futuro, based in Mexico, comes shortly after a law review article by David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program, and Donald Braman, associate professor of law at George Washington University was published by the Harvard Environmental Law Review. Aaron Regunberg, senior policy counsel with Public Citizen’s Climate Program, issued the following statement: 

“The complaint filed in France by these climate survivors and NGOs could mark a major step toward using criminal law to hold Big Oil accountable for the damage and deaths they have caused by knowingly generating and covering up the climate crisis. Most of the offenses described in this French complaint have clear American analogs, from reckless endangerment to involuntary manslaughter.

“This complaint offers an example to district attorneys in the U.S. of how criminal law could be used to seek justice and accountability for the victims of climate disasters. This summer, as American communities face another lethal season of heat waves, wildfires, hurricanes and other climate-fueled catastrophes, U.S. prosecutors should begin considering how they, too, can stand up to the powerful fossil fuel companies whose reckless conduct is endangering their communities.” 

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