Courts Back Teens (not States) in Climate Change Activism

On This Site

Current Events

Share This Page






Follow This Site

Follow SocStudies4Kids on Twitter

May 21, 2016

Make that multiple victories for students suing their state government over climate change inaction.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled that the state's Department of Environmental Protection was not doing enough to achieve the amount of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that a 2008 Massachusetts law had stipulated.

The plaintiffs in the case were teenagers: James Coakley, Olivia Gieger, Isabel Kain, and Shamus Miller. Gieger and Miller attend Wellesley High School; Coakley and Kain attend Boston Latin School.

The 2008 law was the Global Warming Solutions Act, which required a 25-percent reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and an 80-percent reduction by 2050.

The teens, who were joined in the lawsuit by the Mass Energy Consumers Alliance and the Conservation Law Foundation, argued that the state wasn't doing enough, and the Supreme Judicial Court agreed, ordering the state to accelerate its efforts to meet the emissions reduction goal, including setting and meeting annual goals.

Just a few weeks ago, teens in Washington scored a similar victory in their state, with a Superior Court judge ordering the Washington Department of Ecology to, by the end of 2016, create rules to cut emissions. That case involved eight youngsters from King County.

The argument in the Washington case was that the state's goal of a drop in emissions by 50 percent in 2050 was not robust enough; current science makes clear, the plaintiffs argued, that the number should be 80 percent.

A similar case in Oregon involved a U.S. District Court mandating that a lawsuit over the harms of climate change go ahead, despite opposition by the fossil fuel industry and the federal government.

Supporting the young plaintiffs in all three cases was the nonprofit Our Children's Trust, which is also supporting cases in Colorado and North Carolina, as well as in other countries.

Search This Site

Custom Search

Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2016
David White