King County Judge Makes Historic Ruling Against Washington State in Climate Change Case

Sydney Brownstone reported the following article in the April 29th, 2016, edition of The Stranger SLOG:

A King County Superior Court judge has reversed a ruling that gave the Washington State Department of Ecology the opportunity to decide when to cut statewide greenhouse gas emissions. Because of a lawsuit filed by eight Washington State kids, Judge Hollis Hill has ruled that the threat of climate change is so urgent that the state must be placed on a court-ordered deadline to hold polluters accountable now.

The decision was the first of its kind. Earlier this year, Judge Hill found that the state had a constitutional responsibility to protect its citizens—including the children who filed the lawsuit—but that dictating an additional greenhouse gas rule-making process wouldn’t be necessary. After all, in July of last year Governor Jay Inslee had directed Ecology to come up with a rule to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the plaintiffs, 10-year-old Adonis Piper, showed off his notes at a court hearing. Photo Credit: Sydney Brownstone
One of the plaintiffs, 10-year-old Adonis Piper, showed off his notes at a previous court hearing. Photo Credit: Sydney Brownstone of The Stranger

That changed when Ecology withdrew the draft rule in February of 2016 in order to take more time to confer with stakeholders. When that happened, the kids’ lawyer, Andrea Rodgers, asked the judge to change the earlier ruling in favor of the state based on two criteria: one, that the state had misrepresented the facts, and two, that extraordinary circumstances deemed it necessary.

Judge Hill didn’t think that Ecology committed fraud or misrepresentation by committing to a rulemaking process and then withdrawing a draft rule later. But she did agree with the kids’ lawyer that climate change constituted extraordinary circumstances.

“Ecology doesn’t dispute that current science establishes that rapidly increasing global warming causes an unprecedented risk to the earth, to the land, sea, and atmosphere, and all living plants and creatures,” Judge Hill said. Then the judge used Ecology’s own words to demonstrate the “extraordinary” circumstances, reading back a quote from 2014 warning of “serious economic and environmental disruptions.”

Judge Hill continued:

The reason I’m doing this is because this is an urgent situation. (…) These children can’t wait, the polar bears can’t wait, the people of Bangladesh can’t wait. I don’t have jurisdiction over their needs in this matter, but I do have jurisdiction in this court, and for that reason I’m taking this action.

Now the state must come up with a rule to cut greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2016. In addition, it must make recommendations to the legislature next year to update the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals based on the most current science.

In order to demonstrate how climate change posed an immediate threat to Washington citizens—and how the state had failed to protect them from it—lawyer Andrea Rodgers cited the Quinault Indian Nation’s plan to relocate its ancestral village of Taholah away from the coastline because of rising sea levels. “People think that this is something that’s going to happen down the road when our friends, and our family, and our people in Washington are literally being relocated,” Rodgers said.

As for the judge’s ruling on extraordinary circumstances, “It’s not climate change that’s the extraordinary circumstance, it’s that this agency hasn’t done what it’s legally obligated to do for almost 30 years,” Rodgers told me after the courtroom let out. “And [Judge Hill] recognized that a court has a responsibility to step in and protect the rights of young people that are being harmed by climate change. This is world-changing and it’s amazing.”

The kid plaintiffs and their friends inside the courtroom were similarly stoked.

“I think it’s our biggest victory so far,” 12-year-old Athena Fain said.

“I mean, [Ecology] are our ‘elders,’ so to speak, and they’re supposed to guide us and help us, and it kind of feels like we’re guiding them to help us,” 14-year-old Gabe Mandel added. “So we’re totally thankful that amazing Judge Hollis Hill ruled in our favor.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Ecology stressed that the state was already taking climate change seriously. “We’re already working on an aggressive schedule trying to put this policy in place, and we’re going to stay on that schedule,” Ecology spokesperson Camille St. Onge said. “It’s our top priority as an agency. We understand how vital it is to protect our air, and our water, and our land for future generations.”

UPDATE: Governor Jay Inslee released a statement on Judge Hollis Hill’s ruling.

Below:

This case is a call to act on climate, and that call is one that has been a priority for me since taking office. Our state is helping lead the way on climate action in our country.

It appears the court is essentially reaffirming the need to do what we’ve already committed to doing, which is putting a policy in place by the end of the year that reduces carbon pollution in Washington state.

In a way it is gratifying that the court has also affirmed our authority to act, contrary to the assertion of those who continue to reject action on climate change and ocean acidification. Hundreds of people have participated in the creation of our state’s Clean Air Rule and the draft will be out in just a few weeks. People can also view the webinar held earlier this week in which over 500 people participated.

I’m fully committed to making sure we do our part to protect our air and water for our children in the years ahead.

Sign up now: May 7 2016 Seattle Plant-for-the-Planet Academy

RESERVE YOUR SPACE Today!

Seattle Plant-For-The-Planet Academy

University Unitarian Church, Seattle WA

Saturday, May 7th, 2016; 8:30am – 3:30pm 

For students in grades 4th – 8th

Click here for details!

Our Heroic Movement was Featured on the Front Page of the Seattle Weekly

On Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 the Seattle Weekly published Sara Bernard’s wonderful front page article on our Seattle chapter of Plant For The Planet! Read it online and also listen (via SoundCloud) to Ambassadors Joey and Grace discuss challenges they face in getting policymakers to take action on climate change, and the frustrations they feel. The text of the article is as follows:

It’s a Friday night at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford, and Joey and Grace, ages 9 and 11—tiny, wiry, and ebony-haired—are tumbling over each other to tell me what they know about climate change. Their introduction to the concept is pretty difficult to pinpoint, though, since it’s always been there, “like all those other facts,” says Grace.

“It’s just, like, a regular thing,” adds Joey.

Still, for my benefit, the siblings cast their minds back to the old days, when they knew about climate change, but they didn’t know that much about it.

“We knew it was caused by people burning oil and gas, but we didn’t understand what it meant,” offers Grace.

“We didn’t know how it works, we didn’t understand the effects, we didn’t understand how fast it was happening,” Joey says at a rapid clip. “We thought it happened in, like, 150 years, the big effects?”

“Something like that,” says Grace.

But now they’re aware that “the big effects are already somewhat happening,” says Joey. “There’s natural global warming . . . but this isn’t natural.” And then, with some gravitas: “If we don’t make some big changes by 2020, it won’t matter how much we try to help after.”

They share their feelings about that.

“Frustration . . . anger.”

“Frustration . . . annoyance. And kind of like . . . nobody getting it!”

“And a little bit this desperate need, like, ‘We need to do something! Why won’t you understand that?! Whyyyy?!’ ”

We’re at the tail end of a monthly meeting of the Seattle chapter of Plant for the Planet, an international environmental club with 34,000 young members in 50 countries who have collectively planted more than 14.2 billion trees. There are snacks and games, as you’d expect at a kid meeting—muffins, cookies, carrot sticks, a swift round of hide and seek, some dashing about and shrieking and breathless laughter.

But mostly it’s quite serious. Moderated by the group’s 13-year-old president, Gabe Mandell, the young activists are celebrating the myriad climate wins of 2015—Shell is out of the Arctic! Obama vetoed Keystone XL!—and planning their next tree-planting workshops and retreats, as well as discussing the climate news of the day, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial trade agreement that could allow multinational corporations to skirt carbon policies.

These are the kids, aged 8 to 14, who’ve trained to become “Climate Justice Ambassadors”—the official title of every member of Plant for the Planet who participates in a day-long “Academy”—giving ebullient speeches to their peers at school and at climate events. They’ve shown up at Shell, Keystone, oil train, and Gates Divest protests; they’ve testified at climate conferences and hearings; they’ve urged the Seattle City Council to put warning labels on gas pumps. They’ve also spent time with Governor Jay Inslee and former Vice President Al Gore and been featured in the HBO documentary Saving My Tomorrow; they’ve planted 11,000 trees and started a state-level challenge to plant a billion. They’ve co-hosted workshops and trainings all over the Puget Sound area and inspired the creation of a Plant for the Planet chapter in Portland. They’re about 375 strong since their inception in early 2013, with a few dozen active members. And eight of them were plaintiffs in a highly publicized lawsuit petitioning the Washington State Department of Ecology to develop a carbon-emissions rule for the sake of their fundamental rights—a lawsuit that they almost won.

“A lot of the times when I hear bad things about [climate change], I start to cry, and I feel pretty depressed,” says Sierra Gersdorf-Duncan, an 11-year-old fifth-grader so gripped by the crisis of ocean acidification that she’s been interviewed for a Philippe Cousteau documentary on the topic. But that kind of climate despair, she says, in herself and others, is “what we need to change. We have to tell them, ‘You’re right, these terrible things are happening, but we can do something about it.’ ”

If you, like Sierra, are 11 today, you were born not long before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Then, nearly every year of your existence, the world has seen epic climate-related disasters: Hurricane Sandy, Typhoon Haiyan, massive flooding in Pakistan, Pacific islands slipping underwater, Alaskan villages toppling from coastal bluffs, endless drought in California, and catastrophic wildfires in Washington. Every year seems to surpass the last as the “hottest year on record”; 2015 just beat out 2014 for the highest global average temperatures ever recorded, and 15 of the planet’s 16 hottest years occurred after 2001.

Also, if you are 11, you were born just before the release of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, which marked a sea change in public perception around the concept—in this country, anyway—making “global warming” and “climate change” household terms as well as the stuff of political debate. More recently, you saw one of the largest international summits ever convened on this or any topic, and President Obama has been making climate speeches almost since you could speak.

By some accounts, we are beyond predictions and have entered the age of climate consequences. The entire lifetime of today’s children falls into that age. In 2050, the year that some of the more dire climate scenarios could begin to unfold, an 11-year-old will be 45.

“It affects us personally,” says 9-year-old Joey. “Most grownups will not be around long enough to see the big, awful effects I was talking about. For us . . . we’ll be middle-aged. We’ll be fully alive and have to worry about it.”

The kids’ passion has made an impact on the local climate movement. Put onstage, they frequently pull grand, tearful statements—and sometimes actions—out of our elected officials.

“Everything stops when the kid opens their mouth,” says parent and activist Michael Foster, creator of Plant for the Planet in Seattle. He’s taken these kids to a slew of climate events, he says, and without fail, when the kids speak, adults listen. “Whoever is sitting on that panel, behind that table, doodling their notes on their pad . . . The pencils go down. They make eye contact. They are paralyzed, not breathing, until that kid finishes.”

Kids speaking up for themselves, for the planet they’ll inherit—it’s effective. 350 Seattle has been known to call these kids their “secret weapon.” But it’s not just some cheap ploy to fill out a climate agenda: The weapon works because the kids care, too.

Tim Deppe, a Climate Ambassador who just turned 10, says all the bad stuff he hears about climate change doesn’t make him sad. “Not sad, no,” he says. “Passionate.”

The journey to Plant for the Planet in Seattle began with a single Google search.

In late 2012, Foster trained with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps, and since his children were in fourth and sixth grade at the time, he figured he’d do a slide show for their science class. But the talk he’d prepared was pretty grim, and he wasn’t going to just slap on some sweet nothings at the end. “I cannot end a talk with, ‘But we’re gonna build a whole bunch of windmills, so you guys are going to be all right,’ ” he says. “That’s such a lie.”

So he plugged “children save the world” and “climate” into a Google search bar and the top hit was a video put together by a German wunderkind named Felix Finkbeiner, who at age 9 decided that the best way to get around the climate crisis was to plant trees. Today the 17-year-old has been named the 2015 “European of the Year” by Reader’s Digest, addressed the United Nations, and launched a global organization with the goal of planting a trillion trees by 2020. (There are about three trillion trees on the planet today, but we’re still losing an estimated 15 billion every year to agriculture and development.)

Planting trees: It’s a simple concept for kids to grasp, and it’s one possible solution to climate change, since forests are huge carbon banks—they absorb planet-warming CO2 while pumping out oxygen. It also gives children something to hold onto in the face of “all this gloom-and-doom Al Gore stuff,” Foster says. He folded Finkbeiner’s video and call to action into his science-class presentation, and it was a total hit. Kids cheered, teachers wiped their eyes. “I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ ” he recalls. “‘I’ve got to do this slide show more.’ ”

Foster has since presented to about ten thousand kids in Seattle, by his estimation, and gotten on the phone with Finkbeiner, who chastised him for not having started a Seattle chapter of Plant for the Planet sooner. He’s also been a major connector for climate activists working with kids, as well as for local politicians—he’s brought Mayor Ed Murray as well as House Speaker Frank Chopp and representative Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle) to various Plant for the Planet events. His two daughters were also the named plaintiffs in Zoe & Stella Foster v. Washington Department of Ecology, the kids’ climate-change lawsuit. It was one of many state-level lawsuits filed by Oregon-based nonprofit Our Children’s Trust—a way to force action on climate change through the courts by using a legal principle called the “public trust doctrine” (and a secret weapon called “children”). Getting on board with that, Foster says, was easy: He stumbled across an Our Children’s Trust video and recognized a Carkeek Park landmark behind Andrea Rodgers, one of the attorneys working on the cases, who, it turned out, lived in Seattle. He called her and said, “ ‘I need to talk to you.’ And she said, ‘Is this Michael Foster? I need to talk to you!’ It’s a pretty small network of climate activists working with kids around the country.”

The kids got their final day in King County court last November; they’d been petitioning the Department of Ecology to create a carbon-emissions rule based on the best available climate science since summer 2014. While they lost their case in the end, Judge Hollis Hill nevertheless created a legal precedent that thrilled climate activists: the idea that the Washington state constitution should in fact protect the atmosphere for future generations. According to Judge Hill’s ruling, the only reason she dismissed the kids’ case was because the Department of Ecology was already developing a similar rule. Notably, Ecology is developing that rule because Governor Jay Inslee ordered it to last summer—11 days after he spent 90 minutes listening to five of the kid plaintiffs asking him to do just that.

Meanwhile, Senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), chair of the Energy, Environment, & Telecommunications Committee, has sponsored SB 6173, a bill that would overturn Ecology’s ability to make a carbon rule without the help of the legislature. The proposed rule, said Ericksen in a statement, “gives manufacturers a perverse incentive to leave the state of Washington.” The bill passed his committee and is now in the hands of the Rules Committee, which may send it to the Senate floor for a second reading.

“The problem is we’re fighting a propaganda war,” says 11-year-old Grace. “Who can get people to listen more—the oil corporations or people like us?”

She sighs, acknowledging that there are plenty of other problems in the world that she feels sympathetic to, but that we don’t have a spare planet on which to solve those problems. “Honestly, if we don’t do something about climate change now,” she says, “we’re not going to have a chance to worry about the rest of it.”

According to Michael Foster, climate change is a “time crime.” We’re stealing the future from our children by burning fossil fuels with abandon, and we won’t really know it—we won’t know quite how much we’ve stolen—for decades.

It is also, in his view, kind of like second-hand smoke. “I grew up in Texas at a time when everybody smoked everywhere,” he says. “I remember everywhere I went stank, and that’s just how it was. It was like sucking on a tailpipe, just cigars and whatever, all the time. And the idea that I could be a kid in a world of people who are just smoking around me, everywhere, all the time, and know what they’re doing to me? That’s crazy-making.”

That’s why he wants to create an infrastructure for these kids—give them a platform so that “grownups take them seriously, and so they’re not feeling so crazy and isolated and alone with the knowledge that they have.”

Sure, it’s often people like Foster who’ve put that knowledge in these kids’ heads in the first place, but they live in this world too, and they’re listening. 11-year-old Sierra is very, very worried about the ocean’s dying diatoms, for example, but explains that Plant for the Planet “gave me a thing to do about it. The effects [of climate change] are very depressing, but once you get involved, it doesn’t seem that hard because you have all these other people supporting you.”

While some of the kids are interested in science or enjoy being mini-celebrities—it is nice, as former Planet for the Planet president Wren Wagenbach told me, to have somebody “listening to you, for once”—they often have very strong emotional connections to the issue, too. Last summer, 12-year-old Jenny wrote Governor Inslee a letter describing her attachment to a lake and a waterfall in a forest in China: She’d go every year to visit family, but one year when she returned, the forest had been cut down and turned into oil-slicked pavement.

For Grace, it’s about compassion. “If someone’s upset or hurting or angry, it’s like it’s coming off them in waves and I feel it too,” she says. “But it’s not just people I’m actually in direct contact with . . . it’s like, every hurricane, every flood: It hurts.”

It’s not just guilt, then, that makes climate-caring adults lose themselves in the kids’ speeches. It’s also because they’re kids—so optimistic, so emotionally raw, so guileless. They put things in simple terms; they force us to interrogate our own assumptions; and they are utterly convinced that this is a problem we can fix.

Foster paraphrases a sentiment that he heard both Governor Inslee and Al Gore express at a fundraising luncheon in December 2014, following a three-minute call-to-action speech delivered by then-9-year-old Abby. “It’s not because we’re doing this for her,” he says, and he is crying now. His voice trembles. “It’s because she embodies the spirit of who we have to become.”

Adds Foster: “It’s speaking truth to power, and saying, ‘You need to be over here with me. You need to be a little more like me. You need to be a little more bold, a little more courageous. You have to do the impossible.’ ”

As I wrap up my conversation with Joey and Grace, Grace insists several times that I include one very important piece of information in this article. “We need funding,” she says. Planting trees, alas, isn’t free. But “it’s only one dollar per tree! It’s not much!” I promise to mention it. Parents grab their kids’ things, someone plays a riff on the piano, tiny hands grab extra cookies and tiny sneakers squeak as a dozen or so children skip off into the wet night.

Just outside the door, Gabe Mandell reels off some of the intricacies of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “Do you want me to tell you the two worst things about it?” he asks, then launches into an explanation of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision, which would allow corporations to sue governments over laws they find too restrictive in private trade tribunals, and if they establish the tiniest subsidiary in a country that has lax carbon or public-health laws, they can opt to abide by those laws, instead of the countries they do most of their business in.

He then takes care to remind me—although, at this moment, I’m quite convinced—that this is not just kid stuff.

People “look at us and they just see a bunch of kids planting trees, or whatever,” he says, exasperated. “I think we really need to get it out that we are an organization that is dedicated to fighting climate change! We’re doing things. We’re not just a bunch of kids getting together on a Friday. We’re a bunch of kids getting together and trying to do solutions that many grownups aren’t.”

Sara Bernard writes about environment and education, among other things, for Seattle Weekly. She can be reached at sbernard@seattleweekly.com or 206-467-4370. Follow her on Twitter at @saralacy.

Victory for today’s young people and all living things to come. Now take action!

KING5 News Video

This time next week, Washington could become the first state in the union committed to walking the path back to 350 CO2 in our children’s lifetime. By Wednesday July 8th, the Department of Ecology must respond to the court in the historic victory, Zoe & Stella Foster v. Ecology.

Please contact Dept of Ecology and the Governor’s office today with congratulations and encouragement. This landmark ruling means Ecology under the Governor’s direction and judge’s order must exercise their sole authority to regulate and reduce carbon pollution “to protect our state’s resources and the children who depend on them.”

It’s a great day for Washington State once Ecology decides to do the right thing for our children. Call now and get your friends to call too!

Congratulations to everybody.

From Our Children’s Trust:

6-24-15
Dear Friends,

In a no-nonsense decision that calls out bureaucratic delay in the face of urgent and dire climate consequences, a judge in our Washington case just sided with the 8 youth petitioners, and ordered the state to reconsider its denial of the youth’s petition for emission reductions in accordance with current science. Please read the 4-page decision and press release.

Importantly, the judge ordered the state to consider the youth’s scientific evidence and to respond to the need to bring atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to below 350 ppm by 2100.

The State must notify the court in two short weeks whether it will amend or affirm it’s denial of the youth’s petition in face of the court’s and the youth’s scientific evidence.

Congratulations to our youth petitioners of Plant for the Planet Academy and our outstanding WELC attorney leading the Washington case, Andrea Rodgers.

   To Our Children’s Trust,

or donate to “Climate Change for Families” near the bottom of the website, or to Plant-for-the-Planet.
Thank you!

VICTORY! Washington State Youth Win Unprecedented Decision in their Climate Change Lawsuit

Youth Plaintiffs outside King County Courthouse for Oral Arguments May 15, 2015
Youth Plaintiffs outside King County Courthouse for Oral Arguments May 15, 2015

Judge Orders Washington Environmental Agency to Consider Youth-Proposed Carbon Dioxide Reductions

Seattle, Washington – On Tuesday, King County Superior Court Judge Hollis Hill issued a landmark decision in Zoe & Stella Foster v. Washington Department of Ecology, the climate change case brought by eight young citizens of Washington State. In her decision, Judge Hill ordered the Washington Department of Ecology (“Ecology”) to reconsider the petition the eight youth filed with Ecology last year asking for carbon dioxide reductions, and to report back to the court by July 8, 2015, as to whether they will consider the undisputed current science necessary for climate recovery.

Last June, the young petitioners filed a petition for rulemaking to Ecology requesting that the agency promulgate a rule that would limit carbon dioxide emissions in Washington according to what scientists say is needed to protect our oceans and climate system. The youth also asked Ecology to inform the Legislature that existing statutory greenhouse gas reductions must be revised based on current climate science. On August 14, 2014, Ecology denied the petition without disputing the underlying scientific bases for petitioner’s plea. Arguing that they have a fundamental right to a healthy environment, and that they are faced with increasing harms posed by climate destabilization and ocean acidification, the young petitioners filed an appeal of the denial to vindicate this right on behalf of themselves and future generations.

“The effect of this decision is that for the first time in the United States, a court of law has ordered a state agency to consider the most current and best available climate science when deciding to regulate carbon dioxide emissions,” said Andrea Rodgers of the Western Environmental Law Center, attorney for the youth petitioners. “The court directed Ecology to apply the agency’s own findings that climate change presents an imminent threat to Washington and demands immediate action. The ball is now in Ecology’s court to do the right thing and protect our children and future generations.”

In a footnote to her order, Judge Hill explained her plain reasoning for rejecting Ecology’s plan to delay action, referencing a December 2014 report from Ecology: “Ecology suggests no change in greenhouse gas reduction standards until after an international climate conference scheduled in Paris in December 2015, thus delaying action for at least a year from the date of the report or one year and five months after the report’s original due date. Neither in its briefing nor in oral argument of this appeal did the Department seek to justify this suggested delay. The report itself states that after the Paris conference Washington would be better informed how the state’s limits should be adjusted.”

“Kids understand the threats climate change will have on our future,” said 13-year-old petitioner Zoe Foster. “I’m not going to sit by and watch my government do nothing. We don’t have time to waste. I’m pushing my government to take real action on climate, and I won’t stop until change is made.”

The court’s opinion acknowledges that climate change is currently happening and will have devastating impacts on the natural environment of Washington. Citing Ecology’s December report, the court wrote: “Washington State’s existing statutory limits should be adjusted to better reflect the current science. The limits need to be more aggressive in order for Washington to do its part to address climate risks.”

Ecology has recognized that “we are imposing risks on future generations (causing intergenerational inequities) and liability for the harm that will be caused by climate change that we are unable or unwilling to avoid.” Current climate science finds that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels must be reduced from the current global annual mean concentration of 401 parts per million, to 350 ppm by 2100 in order to achieve climate stabilization and protect our oceans from catastrophic acidification.

“This encouraging court decision reminds us that there is still good basis for optimism about legal strategies that aim to require governments to draft an action plan consistent with a more stringent mitigation target than the ones that are commonly discussed,” said the youth’s expert, NASA climate scientist Dr. Pushker Kharecha. “I hope the Department of Ecology realizes that such a plan would be more achievable than they think in this case, and that they will therefore choose to amend their decision accordingly.”

“This is a decision of immense national significance,” said Julia Olson, executive director of Our Children’s Trust, the nonprofit spearheading similar cases around the country. “Judge Hill acknowledges the urgent and dire acceleration of global warming, refuses to accept any more bureaucratic delay, and mandates that the State consider and act in just two weeks time on the youth’s scientific evidence that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide must be reduced to 350 ppm. This judge understands the role of the judiciary to enforce citizen’s rights to fair evaluation of their grounded petitions and the critical urgency that government act substantively and without delay to protect the state’s resources and the children who depend on them.”

“The court’s decision brings a feeling of triumph,” said 14-year-old petitioner Aji Piper. “But I know there is still a lot of work to be done. We may have one a battle, but we’re still fighting a bigger war.”

The legal geniuses of Our Children's Trust making history in Seattle for Oral Arguments, May 2015
The legal geniuses of Our Children’s Trust making history in Seattle for Oral Arguments, May 2015

The youth petitioners acted with the help of Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit orchestrating a global, game-changing, youth-driven legal campaign to establish the right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate. The legal effort advances the fundamental duty of government today: to address the climate crisis based on scientific baselines and benchmarks, and to do so within timeframes determined by scientific analysis. Our Children’s Trust is a nonprofit organization advocating for urgent emissions reductions on behalf of youth and future generations, who have the most to lose if emissions are not reduced. OCT is spearheading the international human rights and environmental TRUST Campaign to compel governments to safeguard the atmosphere as a “public trust” resource. We use law, film, and media to elevate their compelling voices. Our ultimate goal is for governments to adopt and implement enforceable science-based Climate Recovery Plans with annual emissions reductions to return to an atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration of 350 ppm. http://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/ The Western Environmental Law Center is a public interest nonprofit law firm. WELC combines legal skills with sound conservation biology and environmental science to address major environmental issues throughout the West. WELC does not charge clients and partners for services, but relies instead on charitable gifts from individuals, families, and foundations to accomplish its mission. http://www.westernlaw.org

NOAA, Global Greenhouse Reference Network, Global CO2 for April 2015 (http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ 1 global.html).

Dr. Pushker Kharecha is a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (http://www.giss.nasa.gov/ 2 staff/pkharecha.html) and Columbia University Earth Institute (http://www.earth.columbia.edu/eidirectory/displayuser.php? userid=1860).

Sign Isaac’s “Divest Beaverton” Project

Tonight at 6pm, Beaverton, OR City Council will hear Isaac make his first public request to DIVEST from fossil fuels. A project he began over a year ago. Go Isaac! You can support him below after you read his first-person account here:
Power Past Coal holds people's hearing on Pacific Northwest coal exports
(Photo by: Alex Milan Tracy)
It’s been a busy year, but for my Bar Mitzvah Project I am doing a bunch of stuff to help stop and reverse Climate Change.Isaac Vergun at the United Nations Environmental Programme sponored Plant for the Planet Academy in Seattle
Isaac at the Plant-for-the-Planet Academy in Seattle, 
devoted to planting 1,000 billion trees for climate justice.

My main project is a campaign with 350.org to get the City of Beaverton, Oregon to divest from fossil fuels and nuclear power. Please sign my petition, even if you do not live in Beaverton. Most people who will be reading this live, work, or shop in Beaverton, but what my city does affects the rest of you too, so please sign!

http://campaigns.gofossilfree.org/petitions/divest-the-city-of-beaverton-from-fossil-fuels-and-nuclear-power

What I Am Asking the City of Beaverton and Others To Do

Based on the 350.org divestment toolkit I am asking the City of Beaverton to:

  1. Immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuels.
  2. Divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years.

Instead of investing their money into fossil fuel companies, we can reinvest in companies who are making solutions to climate change.

There are 200 publicly-traded companies which hold the vast majority of listed coal, oil and gas reserves. These are the companies from which I am asking our institutions to divest. As 350.org says, my demands to these corporations are simple, because they reflect the stark truth of climate science:

They need to immediately stop exploring for new hydrocarbons.

They need to stop lobbying in Washington and state capitols across the country to preserve their special breaks.

Most importantly, they need to pledge to keep 80% of their current reserves underground forever.

Why Should the City of Beaverton Divest?

The mission of the City of Beaverton is to be looking out for the public good. It is well known for the quality of education and work to get solar adopted. One big action of  “looking out for the public good” is divesting from fossil fuel companies, because these companies are putting us at risk for: less access to water, droughts, uncontrolled forest fires, etc. Mayors and other local leaders need to take the lead because the action of the federal government has been stalled, so the local communities need to take action. Divestment is the moral choice for governments who care about their people. Beaverton taking action to solve the climate crisis will help to make sure that the city’s investments pay off in the future.

I am also having a contest for people helping me to get signatures. Ask me if you’re interested in helping! We’ll try to post more soon! Thanks!

Help get 2 USA Ambassadors to the Plant For The Planet international conference in Germany!

Climate Change For Families (Plant-for-the-Planet in Seattle, USA), a 501(c)(3) organization, needs your financial help to defer the $4,000 cost of the airplane tickets for Climate Justice Ambassadors 14-year old Aji & 14-year old Wren, along with their adult advisor Michael Foster, for their upcoming trip to Germany to participate in the May 17 to 25th International P4tP conference to finalize the Youth Climate Plan prior to the Paris December 2015 G7 summit. Yes, it is unusual for P4tP Seattle to take such a trip. But we’re now in “crunch time” to save Mother Earth, and it is extremely important that these Climate Justice Ambassadors attend and have input towards shaping/controlling their future. They are the only 2 Ambassadors representing North America at this conference. As Michael Foster says: “We’re only doing this to save the world!” Thank you for your generosity.
Climate Change For Families is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Our tax ID number: 46-5636361
Donate now at http://bit.ly/1F8V2q8!

Next Plant for the Planet Academy on Bainbridge!

Saturday May 9th, 2015 9am – 5:30pm, Bainbridge Island, WA

Host: Bainbridge Boys & Girls Club, 9453 Coppertop Loop NE, Bainbridge Island, WA

Plant-for-the_Planet Global ScaleCome learn to serve your community as an Ambassador for Climate Justice. At this free day-long workshop 50 students (age 8-14) will learn to make a difference for the world as part of Plant For The Planet, an international group of 34,000+ young people worldwide who are planting trees and leading communities to solve the climate crisis now. The day culminates in an educational and moving slideshow presentation for families and the public as the world’s newest Ambassadors for Climate Justice share what they have learned from each other and make their commitments to plant and speak for the trees!

Felix Finkbeiner, recently named Reader’s Digest’s “European of the Year” tells his story best. Now serving as Official Tree-Counters for the United Nations Tree campaign, Plant-For-The-Planet is organized by children around the world who work for a better future on earth. They have a wildly ambitious plan that will change climate change for good in their lifetime.

Since 2013 Climate Change For Families has helped student Academies in Olympia, Orcas, and Whidbey Island, plus 6 in Seattle. At the Academies new students learn from past students and wow, is it Fun! Children get to learn important facts about the causes and effects of the climate crisis and what children are doing to solve it around the world as Climate Justice Ambassadors, members of a global children’s network, who make a real difference by planting trees, talking to leaders, conserving energy and inspiring people to care and to act now for their future.

During the Academy children learn about climate justice from other children, and how to deliver a climate slideshow originally made by Felix years ago, and how to properly plant trees. Ambassadors get a free Plant-for-the-Planet T-shirt and the book “Tree by Tree” so they can learn more about how we plant now to shape our future. 

To end the workshop, Ambassadors pledge to take one action per month, whether it’s planting, giving a talk at school, writing a persuasive letter to a decision-maker, or attending a monthly meeting where students inspire one another to come up with more creative actions to make a real difference, like lemonade stands for trees, writing songs, or giving lawmakers “climate fortune cookies”.

Ambassadors give State of the Planet 2015 on Saturday at Seattle City HallLocal Ambassadors have been featured in HBO “Saving My Tomorrow”, introduced Governor Inslee, spoken out against dangerous oil and coal trains, counted over 10,000 trees planted, launched Washington’s Billion Tree Challenge, and trained almost 300 fellow Ambassadors.

Make a donation if you like, to help cover costs and plant more trees, but volunteers and students help run the show so that participation at Plant-For-The-Planet and the Academy is always free for all children. Planting party in Canada

Thank you Bainbridge Island Boys & Girls Club for allowing us to host this Academy in your beautiful new facility! And thanks to our wonderful volunteers for snacks, supplies and encouragement for our Ambassadors!

Reserve your space today since it is limited. Or if you are like me — too old to be an Ambassador anymore — you can volunteer to help us guide students as we explore this fascinating, important material. If you would like to enroll as a student or offer help — organizing, leading, donating supplies or snacks — please contact me for more info.

To plant 1,000,000,000 trees in Washington State, we need everybody!

Sign up now for the Bainbridge Academy!

 

1 Billion banner

Plant for the Planet Stepping Up

By Gary Piazzon

Children of Plant for the Planet
Fighting For Their Future

They are everywhere: lobbying their representatives, participating in UU Voices presentations in Olympia, introducing Governor Inslee and other prominent officials, presenting to the Seattle City Council and of course, planting trees.  It is just getting started!  These children mean business.

We hosted our first Plant for the Planet academy on Whidbey Island Saturday, 3/28/15 and it was a great time. We certified 15 Climate Justice Ambassadors who join 300 in the USA and 340,000 worldwide. This international, UN sponsored program is just getting started in the US.  Like most other aspects pertinent to this über issue we in the USA have been late adopters.  Boo on us.

The children had an exciting day. They learned about the Climate/Ocean crisis, climate justice, how to speak in public, provide positive feedback to their peers and work together. The weather was wonderful. We planted 11 Garry Oaks in the luscious, dark chocolate earth, found lots of worms, a gorgeous garter snake, the bones of a deer, and petted the resident baby goats. We even celebrated a birthday! We now have the nucleus for a club and will be meeting monthly to strategize how best to get our message to the community and for another academy in the Fall.

You can see images of the event on the CREATe and Climate Change for Families websites.

The goals of PFTP are to:

  • Certify 1 million ambassadors
  • Plant 1 trillion trees
  • Keep fossil fuels in the ground
  • Promote global justice and equality

Why so many trees? Trees absorb CO2. Scientists at NASA have determined this is the number of trees needed to stabilize the climate. A trillion trees may seem like a lot. It amounts to 150 per person on the planet. Huge, but that is where we are. Even that is insufficient to get where we need to be. We must also decrease CO2 pollution by 6% per year. Economists agree that the best way to do that is to tax polluters, i.e. the coal, oil and natural gas industries and provide that money to people so they can make wise choices. So, let’s all “Stop Talking and Start Planting!” and get our legislators to pass a carbon tax like those that make the economies of Germany and British Columbia so strong.

Sources:

Planet for the Planet Seattle Explained:

http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=4071325

The inspiring back story: Now We Children Save the World

Presentation to the Seattle City Council- PFTP (begins at about at about 45:00) http://www.seattlechannel.org/mayor-and-council/city-council/city-council-all-videos-index?videoid=x21710

Images from the Academy Saturday 10/25/14 with the Mayor Ed Murray:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/w1t9du8qyvmk86u/AADP2mplzkauRedr7OWF7iyja?dl=0

Introducing Governor Inslee:

https://climatechangeforfamilies.com/2014/12/19/abby-introduces-governor-inslee/

April 3, 2015, 3:20 pm

Citation

Piazzon, G. (2015). Plant for the Planet Stepping Up. Retrieved from http://www.nwuujn.org/view/article/551ee5e50cf24df50709ffc3

“State of the Planet 2015”, According to Children

Ambassadors give State of the Planet 2015 on Saturday at Seattle City Hall

Tonight President Obama steps onto the world stage for the annual State of the Union, but on Saturday morning, Ambassadors for Climate Justice deliver “State of the Planet 2015” at Seattle City Hall.

How is Earth doing in 2015? Find out Saturday as Ambassadors, who range in age from 9 – 14, share the latest climate update and more. “We don’t have time to wait until we’re grown up. We’re announcing initiatives to end the climate crisis.” says Ambassador Gabe, speaking on behalf of all kids who need grownups to help clean up. “Give us a chance at a habitable world.”

The children do their part planting trees, stopping pollution, inspiring others to take bold action. Come do yours!

You’re invited to this fun, free community event.

Saturday 1/24, 11am-Noon

Seattle City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room

Councilmember Mike O’Brien will be on hand as young Ambassadors update Washington’s Billion Tree Challenge, plus their new initiative to put Climate “Warming Labels” on Seattle gas pump nozzles. Hear Aji & Adonis debut a new song live, and guest speaker Rob Shirkey, who originated the ‘labels on gas pumps’ idea in Canada.

If the children succeed, the City of Seattle will join Berkeley, which passed gas pump labels in November, and San Francisco, which has scheduled a hearing. Labeling gas pump nozzles “is just like labeling cigarettes,” according to 11-year-old Ambassador Stella, “but way better because gasoline poisons life all over the planet.”

Washington’s Billion Tree Challenge engages our state in doing our fair share toward the worldwide goal to plant 1 Trillion trees this decade. Over 34,000 Plant-for-the-Planet Ambassadors plant, speak and sing about climate justice worldwide. Volunteering with the United Nations, Ambassadors counted over 13 billion trees planted so far.

In December, Seattle Ambassadors appeared in a documentary “Saving My Tomorrow” on HBO as well as on KING5 “New Day”. They also introduced Governor Inslee at a lunch with Al Gore, and planted the 11,000th tree of the season in Seattle Parks.

Now let’s make 2015 count as the year we turn the tide on climate change. Pledge to make a difference this year. Share your commitment!

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