Two Youth Climate Justice Lawsuits Move Forward

 

Aji Adonis and Gabe discuss their climate lawsuits with Philipe Cousteau

Two distinct landmark lawsuits advance toward trial, moving us closer to the day pollution becomes unconstitutional. Youth sue for climate justice and courts move “with all deliberate speed.” But will it be fast enough?

Washington State: On April 18th Judge Hollis Hill in King County Superior Court, GRANTED youth petitioners’ motion to…

“supplement and amend their petition to plead therein a complaint for declaratory judgment or other action regarding their claims that respondent Ecology and/or others are violating their rights to a healthy environment as protected by statute…and by the Public Trust Doctrine embodied therein. The Court takes this action due to the emergent need for coordinated science based action by the State of Washington to address climate change before efforts to do so are too costly and too late.” 

What does all that mean? Simply, the case will go to trial. Judge Hill goes on to review Washington law on climate and failures to protect the elements young citizens will require to reach adulthood.

“It is time for these youth to have the opportunity to address their concerns in a court of law, concerns raised under statute and under the state and federal constitutions. They have argued their petition for a rule limiting GHG emissions based on best available science. A rule has now been adopted, which Ecology agreed during oral arguments on 11/22/16, is not intended to achieve the requirements of RCW 70.235.020.” (That’s the old 2008 global warming law which Gov. Inslee ordered Ecology to update 3 years ago, which was why youth originally filed their petition, to update the dangerously obsolete targets in the old law. The new rule does not meet those old targets).

Last year, sadly, the Dept of Ecology under Governor Inslee appealed the historic legal decision in the youth climate case, which defined for the first time in history that Washington youth possess rights to a stable climate under our constitution. So in her latest ruling Judge Hill concludes, “IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Petitioners seek leave of the Court of Appeals…for formal entry of the order, if necessary, as this may or may not change a decision in this case now under review by the Court of Appeals, Division 1.”

Progress is steady but too slow. Global warming won’t wait. One way or another this case goes to trial. Will justice arrive in time to make a difference?

What can you do about it? Read on!

FEDERAL CASE: The youth survived yet another motion to derail them from being heard in court. Listen to Kelsey Juliana describe her reaction to the news:

http://klcc.org/post/judge-recommends-against-trump-s-appeal-youth-climate-lawsuit

For a nice update, check Bill Moyers site, Kids Suing Trump Hope the Courts Step Up on Climate. The federal case stands as the bright spot in climate news these days, because the judiciary branch of our government rules based on facts, and is not so easily corrupted. Or as Julia Olsen, attorney for Our Children’s Trust says, “In a court of law, ‘alternative facts’ are considered perjury.” At a press conference on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court she went on, “It is time for defendants to accept that they are going to trial and stop trying to bend the rule of law to delay judgment in this case.”

Later this year we hope to witness more ground-breaking rulings as 21 youth plaintiffs in court take on 9 federal agencies and the entire fossil fuel industry (who as co-defendants bring their own attorney stating, “this case threatens our business model”). That’s 650 oil, coal, and gas corporations in a constitutional case against youth suing for a legal remedy to defend their inalienable rights to life and liberty.

REMEDY: Youth in these lawsuits demand that government use the best available science to limit deadly pollution. That’s no secret formula. It goes like this:

CUT POLLUTION 10% each year starting now + PLANT 10 YEARS of human pollution back into new forests and low-till organic agriculture. For each year we fail to begin, those numbers climb up, up, up. Starting in 2025, we would need to cut 25% each year, and plant twice as many trees. We pollute so much each year and we are already way beyond a safe limit. So the only legal, moral thing to do is stop now.

Any plan to restore climate balance has to put excess greenhouse gases back in the ground. That’s what trees do best! Trees take time to grow big enough to make a difference. So new agriculture practices, letting living carbon matter return to the soil, while shrinking livestock and dairy, and 1 trillion new trees will soak up carbon like a sponge. That’s 150 trees per person on earth today. (But you can plant more because it really is fun, whether you do it online, or grab a shovel and get your two hands dirty.)

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is today.” –proverb

Get the climate back down to a stable level of energy balance fast enough to maybe make the world safe near the end of these kids’ lifetimes. Will 10% annual cuts and 1 trillion trees do it fast enough? Can it be done faster?

You and I decide. As Chief Arvol Looking Horse says,”The fate of the world comes down to you and me.”

Stopping pollution any slower than 10%, or not putting extra pollution back, the kids argue in these cases, violates their right to life and liberty. But any legal remedies could take years, maybe decades, to translate into public policy solutions. Meanwhile we are violating children’s rights every time we fill up the tank, turn up the heat, or flip on the light.

So what are you waiting for?

Stop polluting, Start planting!

 

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