Leaving future generations to fend for themselves in a climate-changed world isn’t the most generous gift a parent can give. So what’s a youth to do? Sue ’em, of course. Sue ’em all.
Four young plaintiffs just won their case filed against the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which climbed all the way to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. Now, the court has ordered the DEP to design new greenhouse gas-cutting regulations.
Overturning the judgment of a lower court, the decision Tuesday found that the DEP falls short of its obligations under the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires the department to put forward regulations for a range of greenhouse gas sources. While the DEP argued Massachusetts’ participation in a regional cap-and-trade initiative, regulations for sulfur hexafluoride, and low-emission vehicle program satisfied the law’s requirements, the court disagreed.
The decision calls for the DEP to “address multiple sources or categories of sources of greenhouse gas emissions” and “set emission limits for each year” to meet the state’s emission-reduction goals for 2020.
The judicial win is the latest in a streak of victories in youth-led cases supported by Oregon nonprofit Our Children’s Trust. Over the past few years, the organization has helped youth plaintiffs file climate cases in all 50 states, in addition to a federal lawsuit that cleared a key hurdle last month. In one case in Washington, a judge recently ruled in favor of eight young Seattle-area petitioners. The Washington Department of Ecology will need to release an emissions rule by the end of 2016.
Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel at Our Children’s Trust, stressed on Tuesday the need for climate action so “youth are not unfairly consigned to a disproportionately bleak future.”
Here’s to a future that’s only proportionately bleak.