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Environment

Arnold Schwarzenegger Wants to Sue Oil Companies for ‘First-Degree Murder’

As climate change makes sea levels rise, storms more extreme, droughts longer, and heatwaves more intense, billions of people are expected to be displaced from their homes and suffer health consequences.

According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, blame for this unfolding catastrophe should be directed squarely at fossil fuel companies, Politico reports,

And they should be sued for it, he said.

The bodybuilder, actor, and former governor of California said in a podcast interview with Politico earlier this week that he will be suing oil companies for “for knowingly killing people all over the world” by suppressing and distorting information about climate change and its consequences and lobbying governments to prevent regulation, all while profiting immensely.

Take Action: Stand Up for the Arctic

He compared fossil fuel companies to the tobacco industry, which conducted a similar campaign of misinformation in the 20th century as millions of people died from smoking-related illnesses.

“The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades, that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and were hiding that fact from the people and denied it,” he said in the podcast.

“Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that,” he added.

Similarly, fossil fuel companies have known about the harms of climate change and the leading role they played in accelerating it for decades.

Read More: ExxonMobil Knew About Climate Change, But Lied for Decades: Report

“The oil companies knew from 1959 on, they did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels, and on top of it that it would be risky for people’s lives, that it would kill,” Schwarzenegger said.

He said that he’s consulting private law firms on how best to develop the lawsuit and is still exploring a timeline for legal action. During the interview, he didn’t go into detail about specific outcomes or specific companies that would be targeted.

In May, Schwarzenegger will be hosting a summit in Vienna on climate change action.

Fossil fuel companies have been sued before and scores of legal battles are currently playing out around the world.

For example, San Francisco is suing several oil companies to pay for infrastructure overhauls that will be necessary once sea levels rise beyond manageable limits.

Read More: Major Climate Change Lawsuits Expected to Make Splash in 2018

In recent years, advocates have even sued governments for failing to take action on climate change.

A group of teens in the US are suing the federal government for violating their human rights for failing to regulate the environment effectively. In Colombia, another group of teens are suing the government on similar grounds.

Schwarzenegger thinks that these lawsuits could bring about a new status quo, getting people to realize that catastrophic climate change is only inevitable if people and companies aren’t held responsible.

“To me it’s absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco,” he said. “Every gas station on it, every car should have a warning label on it, every product that has fossil fuels should have a warning label on it.”

Read More: Trump’s Climate Change Cuts Could Cost Country Billions

Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations’ Global Goals, which call for strong climate change regulations. You can take action on this issue here.