A Washington judge has rejected a group of kids’ climate change petition, but their lawyer still believes the ruling can be seen like a win to some extent.
Eight environmental activists, with ages between 10 and 15, called for the state of Washington to create and implement stricter legislation against the harmful effects of climate change.
Their purpose was to ensure that officials would be required by law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions even further, so that global warming could be curbed and no longer continue unabated.
They had been supported by a non-profit organization called Our Children’s Trust, whose aim is to assist in protecting and preserving natural resources so that future generations can lead a better life, in a clean and healthy environment.
Another conservation group that had sided with the children had been Plant for the Planet, which promotes awareness of global justice and climate change, while the non-profit public interest Western Environmental Law Center had been the one providing legal assistance.
However, on Thursday Judge Hollis Hill from King County Superior Court rejected the appeal, stating that the general jurisdiction of the court didn’t cover the way policy-makers conceive their guidelines.
On the other hand, Hill did state that the Washington Department of Ecology had already been taking measures in order to reduce man-made pollution resulting from the burning of fossil fuel.
Apparently, new regulations are currently being prepared in an effort to combat the harmful effect of industrial activities on the ecosystem. Law-makers are considering studies conducted by scientists regarding the implications of climate change, as well as other political and socio-economic factors.
According to Andrea Rodgers, attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, the court’s decision can still be considered a victory, given the fact that the judge has supported the idea that the state does have a obligation to protect children against the damages resulting from global warming.
Although Hill has ruled that the court didn’t have the authority to call for the Department of Ecology to introduce stricter laws, she was in agreement with the fact that the state government should abide by the Clean Air Act adopted by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Moreover, she also insisted that Washington authorities should undertake efforts to ensure that the following generations can still exercise the constitutional right to a healthy environment.
As she explained, it’s imperative for adults to take action now in addressing global warming, because the survival and well-being of their offspring hinges on these measures, which can no longer be delayed.
Legislation that is currently in place is indeed ineffectual, and unless additional, stricter rules are passed, it won’t be possible for children nowadays to “grow to adulthood safely”.
Meanwhile, Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, has claimed that while the ruling may be pleasantly formulated, it does little to advance the fight against climate change.
In contrast, Maia Bellon, Director of the Washington State Department of Ecology, has welcomed the court’s decision, stating that Governor Jay Inslee is leaving no stone unturned to prepare legislation in accordance with environmental expectations.
She also praised the petitioners for their active involvement and preoccupation with curbing global warming, and declared that their input will be taken into account when preparing the state’s final legislation in this field.
Apparently, several other lawsuits of this kind, initiated by kids demanding more stringent rules against climate change will follow in Oregon, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Colorado and North Carolina.
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