Citizens sue their governments for action on climate change

Image (CC BY-SA 2.0) Tim Evanson / Flickr

Image (CC BY-SA 2.0) Tim Evanson / Flickr

“Global warming is already disrupting the planet’s weather”, a recent New York Times article reads, “now it is having an impact on the courts as well, as adults and children around the world try to enlist the judiciary in their efforts to blunt climate change.”

After a landmark ruling in Holland in 2015, in which a Dutch court ordered the state to reduce emissions by 25% within five years “to protect its citizens from climate change“, an environmental law nonprofit Our Children’s Trust is now suing the federal government in the US to stop the “permitting, authorizing and subsidizing of fossil fuels”. Arguing that the Obama administration and the administrations before it had ample evidence of the risks of climate change and “willfully ignored this impending harm”, the lawsuit calls for the courts to order the development “of a national plan to restore Earth’s energy balance, and implement that national plan so as to stabilize the climate system”.

Allowing the lawsuit to go forward, “it is the first time a federal court has suggested that government may have a constitutional duty to combat climate change, and that individuals can sue to enforce that right,” Michael B. Gerrard, the director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School is quoted.

The ruling by the magistrate judge, Thomas M. Coffin, now goes to Federal District Court to be accepted or rejected.

For further information and links, please see the New York Times article here.

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