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!

 

Give BIG to Plant for the Planet

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The Seattle Foundation’s Give Big campaign is now open for donations, until May 10.  Please consider a donation to Plant for the Planet (Climate Change for Families) to further support the incredible work that is being done by our young Climate Justice Ambassadors and let your friends and family know 🙂

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Imagine the impact your donation can have!

Donate at givebigseattle.org/ClimateChangeforFamilies-PlantforthePlanet

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THANK YOU from all of us 🙂

Youth Activist Speaking at Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s “Rooting our Resistance” Rally

My name is Jamie Margolin, and I’m a 15-year-old climate justice ambassador with Plant for the Planet, a member of the Seattle People’s Climate Movement, and co-founder of Future Voters for 350 parts per million, a budding Teen environmental action network linked to Plant for the Planet.

Watch the video or read Jamie’s full speech below

My name is Jamie Margolin, and I’m a 15-year-old climate justice ambassador with Plant for the Planet, a member of the Seattle People’s Climate Movement, and co-founder of Future Voters for 350 parts per million, a budding Teen environmental action network linked to Plant for the Planet. I’ve spent the majority of 2017 lobbying legislators in Olympia, speaking up at congressional town halls, including Congresswoman Jayapal’s very first town hall as a congresswoman, and organizing, planning, marching, and resisting my heart out.

Like many of you, Election night left me brokenhearted, confused, grief stricken and terrified.

I knew pretty much everything I cared about would now be under attack with a Trump presidency, but I decided to focus my resistance on what I believe is the most important and defining issue of our time: Environmental destruction and climate change.

Because honestly, what will anything else matter when we don’t have clean air to breath or potable water to drink?

So I joined Plant 4 the Planet, an international youth environmental nonprofit, and I got right to work, running around Olympia lobbying and meeting with representatives, testifying at 2 bill hearings before the environmental committee, and giving presentations on climate change.

It was with plant for the planet that I learned how climate change is not this far-off issue that can keep being put off, rather, something that is right here, right now, and is the biggest threat humanity has ever faced and the defining issue of our time.

And later, during my work with the People’s Climate Movement , I learned about the intersectionality of the climate crisis, and how climate change effects other issues and causes we care about. For example, if you care about civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, here’s a connection climate change has to systematic racism. Nationally 68% of the Black population lives within 30 miles of a coal plant, are generally more likely to live in polluted areas and have shorter life spans than Caucasians.

Every issue, whether it’s poverty, public health, racism, or gender inequality, is worsened by climate change. Environmental issues are not separate from human rights issues at all. Having carbon levels in the air that increase childhood asthma and cancer levels is a violation of human rights.

In fact, I think it’s fair to say that if there is one message that echoes forth from this rally, let it be that Environmental rights are human rights, and human rights are environmental rights, once and for all!

Failing to address the issue properly is a crime against all young people (my generation) and future generations.

We young people didn’t ask for any of this. We didn’t ask for or have any say in climate change, we didn’t ask for Trump –we have no vote–  and yet we will pay the biggest price for his environmental recklessness, like his proposed budget. Trump’s proposed budget will slash the EPA’s budget in the Puget Sound by 93 percent and cut 3,000 jobs, many of which, are focused on restoring the Puget Sound, our home.

But we are not just going to stand by and let this happen, are we?

Actually, young people have already been on the front lines of environmental resistance. Youth plaintiffs all over the country have been suing their governments over this crime, slashing the myth that you have to be an adult to contribute to society, and participate in the resistance.

Now why do I keep saying, crime? Well, it’s right in the constitution, that everyone has the inalienable right to life. It’s the most basic right we could ask for. But Climate change and environmental destruction are threatening those basic inalienable rights.

The government has known for decades that climate change would threaten the lives of young generation, but they allowed companies to pollute and the problem to worsen anyway.

So 21 youth plaintiffs from all over the country are suing the federal government over this denial of constitutional rights.

And there are state cases all over the country as well, including here in Washington, where plant for the planet kids are suing the state over refusing to pass science-based climate laws. (By the way, the organization behind all these historic youth vs government lawsuits is Our Children’s Trust, so I’d google them after this event.)

Now here are a few quick numbers.

Pre-industrial, natural levels of carbon in the air were 280 parts per million. Today, we’re at 405 parts per million. The level scientists say we need to get down to if we want to preserve life as we know it- and this level is a maximum- is 350 parts per million.

But most bills in the Washington state legislature, like House Bill 1646, a carbon tax, which 350 Seattle and Plant 4 the planet is lobbying to amend, and we hope you will join our efforts, aims to allow carbon levels to rise to 450 parts per million. That’s not a solution! At 450 parts per million, the city of Seattle would be under water.

Solving the climate crisis is not something we should maybe get around to sometime in the future, it is your constitutional obligation NOW, to ensure my generation has our most basic right to live.

And starting right now, you can defend our rights. Because no matter what Trump does, here at home, we still treasure our natural resources and value our water and air. Everyone here should pledge to talk to our neighbors about the importance of investing in our environment – not slashing it! And that should only be the beginning!

Get involved with organizations if you have the time, (Future Voters and Plant for the Planet is always in need of help), or get involved making sure public officials who are climate champions get and stay elected, like our beloved congresswoman, Pramila Jayapal! Plant trees, call your state and federal representatives about how much you care about the environment and your kids futures, they need to hear from you! A call only takes a few minutes, but it can really make a difference.

Because everything we love is on the line right now, and we will need every bit of help from people of all walks of life joining in this effort.

Finally, I think the most important part of environmental advocacy, is to remember that we’re not just trying to prevent catastrophe, but build and create a more peaceful and better world.

So let’s root our resistance, and start building that better world right here at home!

Thank you!

New West Seattle monthly Meeting

With the growth of Plant for the Planet (a youth-lead climate organization) in Seattle and enough Climate Justice Ambassadors in the South, we have officially kicked off our monthly West Seattle Meetings. Every 3rd Friday we’ll meet at 7PM at the Puget Ridge Co-housing Common House. The meetings in Wallingford will continue on the 1st Friday of the month.

So the next West Seattle Plant for the Planet meeting will be on Friday, April 21st at 7PM. Children who would like to be active to get our planet back to a stable climate and their parents are always welcome to join. Please RSVP by email. Every child who wants to join officially can attend a one day, free academy: One is coming up on April, 8th in Marysville.

To give you a better idea of what we are up to, here’s a quick report from our last meeting:

PftP kids planted a Giant Redwood tree at UW
PftP kids planted a Giant Redwood tree at UW

Most importantly, we elected our two West Seattle Co-chairs Azure (11) and Tim (11), who will take turns planing and running the monthly meetings for the rest of the year.

Congratulations, to both of you!

We also had two special visitors from the Better Cup Campaign, working to persuade Starbucks to improve their cups to be recyclable and made from post-consumer materials. Our Plant for the Planet Ambassadors decided to join this campaign after a presentation from Jim Ace and his Super Mermaid partner. Here is a quick animation, so you can see how much fun we had:

Starbucks #BetterCupCampaign Animation

We also discussed our past actions (The Giant Redwood Planting, Lobbying for House Bill 1646 in Olympia, and a presentation we gave at the the Orca K-8 School) and looked at the calendar to see what’s coming up. Of course, we always plan time for snacks and games 🙂

We’d love to see you there and please forward this to any kids who might be interested in Plant for the Planet! You can contact us for any questions:

Kristen Walsh and Marco Deppe
West Seattle PftP Parent Coordinators

National Geographic on the progress of Plant for the Planet

In their series PEOPLE V. CLIMATE CHANGE National Geographic gives us the latest update on Plant for the Planet: “Teenager Is on Track to Plant a Trillion Trees“. As you know, Felix isn’t doing this by himself, but he certainly started our powerful movement for trees at age 9.

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Read more…

2 climate bills, important differences

 

Jamie Margolin Writer, activist, aspiring politician & Plant for the Planet Climate Justice Ambassador

“I’m 15-years-old and scared about what rising carbon levels mean for my generation. Currently, there are two bills in Washington’s Legislature that propose targets for reducing carbon levels — but they have critical differences.”

Not Buying Anything: Happy Winter Solstice

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Join us 12/10/16 at the Jefferson Park planting of ancient redwoods!

Moving the Giants project comes to Puget Sound

Seattle Parks and Recreation and Plant for the Planet invite the community to a planting celebration for redwood saplings on Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 10 a.m. in Jefferson Park (3801 Beacon Ave. S), at the southwest corner of S Spokane St. and Beacon Ave. S. Plant for the Planet, a world-wide kid-run organization of 8- to 14-year-olds interested in tree planting, keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and fighting poverty through climate justice will plant the redwood saplings and perform a world premiere “Be Like a Tree,” composed by the group.little-girl-with-sapling-10-24-2016-10-11-pmc1

Redwoods are among the oldest, largest, most iconic trees on earth. As part of the Moving the Giants project, 300 Coast Redwood saplings will be delivered to 26 communities around the Puget Sound from December to January. Many other communities are planning special events for tree plantings.

These 300 Coast Redwood saplings have the same genetic structure as some of the world’s oldest and largest trees, have survived 3,000 years or more, and have the capacity to remove and sequester airborne carbon like no other species according to a team of researchers at Humboldt State University and the University of Washington.

The redwood clones result from the work of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive – a Copemish, Michigan not-for-profit that collects, archives, and propagates the world’s most important old-growth trees before they are gone. Their work is described in a 10-minute award-winning film by Michael Ramsey called  Moving the Giants – An Urgent Plan to Save the Planet.

For more information on the event or this project please contact Philip Stielstra at 206-949-3804 or pstielstra@comcast.net, or visit the Moving the Giants to Puget Sound Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MovingTheGiantsToPugetSound/.

Thanks for all life to come

Stepping out of my lead role in Climate Change for Families, organizing in Plant-for-the-Planet and Our Children’s Trust legal efforts, and collaborating with other climate youth initiatives worldwide, I am grateful for the chance to make a difference with wonderful people. Following my act of civil disobedience in North Dakota I face likely prison time. Those who have worked with me know I’m the volunteer “Disorganizer”. Expect things to run much better as I serve others, rather than coordinate activities.

On Saturday, families meet to chart a path forward. We are all volunteers. I would love to hand over a growing organization, with one paid position for 2017. Our budget is so tiny, your donations today might make that possible. Each dollar given to Climate Change for Families pays our tiny expenses or plants tiny trees (You can choose, or let us put your donation where it is most needed). Your gifts help win tiny grants by showing how many people value our work.

To protect life on earth, the world needs more than money. Groups like ours need your time and energy. The future needs your commitment.Clearly, no government, no court, no corporation will force us to stop polluting soon enough. And yet “it is we who decide what nature is, and what it isn’t.”

What active contribution will you make for the good of all life to come?

On December 10th, Plant-for-the-Planet Ambassadors for Climate Justice will plant giant Coastal Redwood saplings here in Puget Sound, cloned from the DNA of a monster tree stump in California. Redwoods need to migrate north with climate change. The trees live for thousands of years. Can our mild marine climate protect them as oceans warm up through this hot century? Will we stop polluting fast enough to cool the planet by 2100? If we succeed, these tiny 3′ saplings the kids plant on December 10th might live to shelter newly evolved species in 3100, or in the year 6100. Wow!!

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This week, youth await Judge Hill’s ruling on whether Ecology owes our kids a real Climate Recovery plan — not just the state Clean Air Rule which the state admits fails to cover all emissions or even mention forests. Should we win and the courts oversee a just climate plan for future generations, how many years will the state and polluters fight against implementation? Will these kids fight for life all the rest of their lives?

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If the world fails to get it together before 2020, we will need to cut emissions 15% annually until we are done with fuels. Does that seem impossible? If we start today, we need only 9% less pollution in 2017 and every year going forward. Will you cut your emissions 9% this year? Can you? Can your workplace?

It’s easier than you might think. And the results can be contagious. Think of it as wanting less, not more. When people live as if money makes the world go ’round, they make a hot mess. We got where we are today making more money and a big mess. For our kids to live well, should we work harder making a living or will we make things live?

Consider the sum of all you do for the planet, then multiply the good stuff. On Giving Tuesday, please don’t limit yourself to money. Donate time and love too. Donate creativity, lend a hand, and give up your pollution as quickly as you can. What gifts will you share?

We take a stand for life. I know we love our families more than anything and other living things so much that we will be the ones who make future life both possible and abundant, by changing our climate for the better. For that love and care, I am grateful.

If you would like to help Climate Change for Families, just tell us how you want to contribute. We all depend on one another giving.

In gratitude, Michael

 

Kids make history today

Tuesday November 22, 2016 King County Superior Court, Seattle WA

3pm Press Conference

4pm Hearing Open to the public!

Come watch Judge Hill weigh in on how best to defend our children’s air and water against climate change and from deliberate neglect by the state Dept of Ecology under Governor Inslee.

As of October, Washington now has a state Clean Air Act finished under order of Judge Hollis Hill, whose prior historic rulings — in favor of protecting children’s essential resources against climate dangers — became landmark decisions celebrated around the world. In May, Judge Hill directed the state Dept of Ecology to finish the rule-making in 2016 because, “These children cannot wait. Polar bears cannot wait. People in Bangladesh cannot wait. While I may not address the needs in those matters, I do have authority in this courtroom, and that is why I am taking this action today.”

Ecology quickly finished a rule which gives away tons of pollution permits for free and requires the 19 worst polluters in the state to start reducing emissions 1.7% starting a few years from now or not, in other words, a rule which does nothing to address our emergency. “ALL DONE!” Ecology admits their plan falls short even for those 19 polluters to satisfy the old limits set way back in 2008. Meanwhile the planet cooks coral reefs, ice caps, forests, and species, all vanishing faster than predicted.

At Tuesday’s “Show Cause” hearing Judge Hill will listen to the children’s lawyer Andrea Rogers argue that the court must intervene because Ecology refuses to follow the judge’s prior rulings to do our part to protect the air and water these children will need for a livable future.

The Dept of Ecology under climate champion Governor Jay Inslee has no plan. No secret Proposals. No clue how to protect our children’s air and water. After 2 years of losing in court to the children they fight against, they still fight to protect corporate polluters. Under our Washington constitution, the state may not choose profits over the people.

Yet, sadly, to win “contempt of court” against a state agency is a very difficult legal standard to prove. How will the judge decide? Nobody knows. I hope we’ll see you in court to find out.

REVIEW Q: Under Judge Hill’s prior rulings, who reserves constitutional rights to air and water in the future?

A: It ain’t polluters.