Arnold Schwarzenegger said Sunday that he plans to take oil companies to court for knowingly “killing people all over the world.” The blockbuster actor and former California governor, speaking during a live Politico podcast, said that he is currently talking with several private law firms on preparing a lawsuit.
“I don’t think there’s any difference: If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it’s first-degree murder; I think it’s the same thing with the oil companies,” he said.
Schwarzenegger argued that oil companies are legally liable because that have known that their product is “risky for people’s lives, that it would kill.” Oil companies have even known for decades about global warming, he added, saying that an oil-industry-sponsored study in 1959 found evidence that fossil fuels would cause a long-term worldwide greenhouse effect.
He likened them to cigarette companies, which he said knew for decades that their tobacco products were killing consumers and hid scientific evidence of tobacco’s harmful effects. Tobacco companies eventually admitted to wrongdoing after losing in court and having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in restitution.
He said he similarly wants to make oil companies acknowledge their products’ harmful effects. His goal is to make every product that contains fossil fuels feature a warning label about its environmental impact, much like the health warnings that cigarette packs display today.
Schwarzenegger has been a longtime advocate for environmental protections. As governor, he signed a 2006 law directing California to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. And in recent years he has made several public statements encouraging climate action and has criticized President Trump for exiting the 2015 Paris climate accord.