Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

8 Kids Submit Blueprint on How to Put Washington on Path Toward Climate Stability

Climate
8 Kids Submit Blueprint on How to Put Washington on Path Toward Climate Stability

On behalf of youth climate activists who secured an unprecedented court order directing the Washington State Department of Ecology to issue a rule regulating greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the year, attorneys Andrea Rodgers and Julia Olson submitted comments asking the Department of Ecology to bring its proposed Clean Air Rule into compliance with the law and the court orders obtained in the case. As part of their comments, the youths presented the department with a blueprint on how to put Washington on a path towards climate stability.

Our Children's Trust

The youths' comments lay out how the Department of Ecology proposed Clean Air Rule would unlawfully allow dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring infringement of the rights of young people and future generations to a livable planet under the public trust doctrine, affirmed in our watershed Washington state court case. The best available science shows that to protect Earth's natural systems on which humankind depends, long-term average global surface heating must be limited to 1 C and atmospheric carbon dioxide must be returned to 350 parts per million (ppm).

Top climate scientists and policy experts who submitted declarations for the case supporting the youths' comments have found that to achieve 350 ppm, carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced by at least eight percent annually, combined with additional carbon sequestration actions. Yet the Washington State Department of Ecology's proposed Clean Air Rule is designed to reduce the state of Washington's emissions by only one percent per year, falling far short of doing what is scientifically required for Washington to do its part to achieve climate stability.

"We cannot continue to base life and death policies on politics rather than science," Andrea Rodgers, attorney for the youths, said. "The science and the law overwhelmingly support stricter emission reductions than Ecology recommended in its proposed Clean Air Rule. This generation of policymakers is the only one that can ensure our children can grow to adulthood safely. They have the science and the power of the law behind them and we hope they will heed the call to protect the rights of young people."

The proposed Clean Air Rule regulates only a very small segment of greenhouse gas sources over a certain threshold (beginning at 100,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent starting in 2017 and leading to 70,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2035). With this structure, the department would authorize continued emission of greenhouse gases by all entities under those thresholds.

In addition, the proposed rule illegally delays compliance for several sectors and contradicts the Department of Ecology's own findings that urgent action is needed to draw down greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed rule's compliance threshold arbitrarily stops decreasing after 2035 and relies upon a flawed state greenhouse gas reporting program.

"Inslee's proposed rule would lock in unacceptable levels of pollution and catastrophic harm to the young people of Washington," Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel for Our Children's Trust, said. "By legalizing emissions at dangerous levels, this proposed rule places the public's survival at serious risk. Ecology is bound by law to 'preserve, protect and enhance the air quality for current and future generations.' We need courage and leadership right now, not half-baked plans."

This youth-led legal effort is one of several similar state, federal and international actions, all supported by Our Children's Trust, seeking the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new study invites parents of cancer patients to answer questions about their environment. FatCamera / Getty Images

By Jennifer Sass, Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, Dr. Philip J. Landrigan and Simon Strong

"Prevention is the cure for child/teen cancer." This is the welcoming statement on a website called 'TheReasonsWhy.Us', where families affected by childhood cancers can sign up for a landmark new study into the potential environmental causes.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Madagascar has been experiencing ongoing droughts and food insecurity since 2016. arturbo / Getty Images

Nearly 1.6 million people in the southern part of Madagascar have faced food insecurity since 2016, experiencing one drought after another, the United Nations World Food Program reported.

Read More Show Less
Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse attends a demonstration against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2015. Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to cancel the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on the first day of his administration, a document reported by CBC on Sunday suggests.

Read More Show Less
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst stand at the Orion spacecraft during a visit at the training unit of the Columbus space laboratory at the European Astronaut training centre of the European Space Agency ESA in Cologne, Germany on May 18, 2016. Ina Fassbender / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Monir Ghaedi

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.

Read More Show Less