May 23, 2016
Two groups of kids suing over environmental issues in their states have won significant victories over their governments and fossil fuel-related industries. They are reminding us that this is their world, and we’re just borrowing it from them.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of four teenagers on Tuesday, agreeing that the state Department of Environmental Protection was not making good on its goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The court ordered the agency to produce and implement stronger and more expansive regulations that lead to the “type of mass-based reductions in greenhouse gases” that the state legislature called for in a 2008 law.
Just a few weeks ago, another group of youth in Washington state forced thier government to craft science-based rules on emissions before the end of the year. The King County judge ruled it is the government’s responsibility to respond on a deadline to the urgent issue of climate change.
Julia Olson, the trust’s executive director and chief legal counsel of Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit advocacy group backing the plaintiffs in Massachusetts, Washington and Oregon, said a trend is emerging. In a statement this week, she said:
“In agreeing with the youth plaintiffs in this case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court joins growing global judicial recognition of youth’s rights to demand that their governments act in accordance with the urgency of the climate change crisis.”