Saturday, November 12, 2016

Courts grant rights to sue states over climate change

Overshadowed by this week's disastrous US elections (disastrous from an environmental and almost every other point of view), a landmark legal decision was handed down in the small West coast city of Eugene, Oregon.
A group of 21 young people, ranging in age from 9 to 20, and supported by Our Children's Trust (an American not-for-profit that.advocates for young  people and environmental issues), were effectively granted the legal right to she the government over climate change.
The young plaintiffs charged President Obama, the fossil fuel industry and various federal agencies with violating their constitutional rights, and of engangering their right to life, liberty, prosperity and public trust resources, by not pursuing more vigorous measures against climate change.
The case might sound trivial, but it was strenuously opposed by funded major trade associations liken the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and the Koch brothers backed American Petroleum Institute (API). In finding for the plaintiffs, US Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin and (later, after his retirement) his replacement US District Judge Ann Aiken, threw out all the arguments of these well-funded organizations.
In her ruling, Judge Aiken declared the facts of man-made climate change to be "undisputable", and stated that, "Federal courts too often have been cautious and overly deferential in the arena of environmental law, and the world has suffered for it."
The case sets an important precedent for other federal lawsuits, which may become an important bulwark in the battle against global warming inaction in a post-Trump climate change denial world. Just last year, an equally important (and largely unknown and unheralded) Dutch court case ruled that the Netherlands must move to reduce its carbon emissions to 25% of 1990 levels within just five years.
These are not small victories, but you still have to scour the backwaters of the Internet to find out about them. Sing it out!

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