Arnold Schwarzenegger Joins Increasing List Of Those Suing Big Oil For Climate Change

Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his plans this week to sue Big Oil for its contributions to climate change. Schwarzenegger joins a growing list of cities and now private citizens who hope to bring Big Oil to court.

In a Politico podcast delivered Monday, Schwarzenegger announced his plans to sue Big Oil, a term often used in reference to the seven largest oil companies. The former governor of California said he wanted to take action against the companies for "knowingly killing people all over the world," according to CNBC.

Related: 7 Myths Big Oil Is Using To Convince People It Can Solve Climate Change

"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.

Big Oil may soon have to pay several U.S. cities for damages caused by climate change induced natural disasters. Scott Eisen/Getty Images

In addition to Schwarzenegger, nine U.S. cities, including New York, have also filed lawsuits against oil, gas and coal companies, Think Progress reported. The San Francisco suburb of Richmond was the most recent city to file a civil case against Big Oil in late January. The city claimed the oil companies knew the impact their industry would have on climate change for decades and purposely kept this information from the public. The city said it wanted the companies to help pay for damages caused by rising sea levels, Reuters reported.

Related: Oil Companies Must Pay New York City For Climate Change Impact, Lawsuit Says

Gillian Lobo, a lawyer who works on the strategic climate litigation team at Client Earth, told Newsweek that despite the damaging effects of climate change, suing Big Oil is still difficult.

"Climate change is [a] very unique problem, because it covers cross-border issues," Lobo told Newsweek . According to Lobo, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact effects of climate change in court because many have yet to occur.

Lobo also explained that it takes time to gather the information necessary to sue such a large number of powerful corporations. Still, the environmental lawyer feels that the time to take action is now and cites precedents, such as the Paris agreement, as an example of the government's ability to make environmental changes. Lobo also explained that the Paris agreement has helped the public understand the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"I think these cases are already important, because they change the profile of climate change [as] they raise awareness," said Lobo. "It's increased the standard and quality of the debate on climate change, who should be held responsible, and how should you go about it."