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13 Youths 'in a Position of Danger' Sue Washington State Over Climate Crisis
By Andrea Germanos
A group of 13 youths have filed a lawsuit against the State of Washington for breaching its constitutional and Public Trust obligations.
Why? Failure to act on climate change.
In their suit (pdf), filed Friday in King County Superior Court, the plaintiffs, aged seven to 17, say the state, Gov. Jay Inslee, and several state agencies have created and propped up fossil fuel-based energy and transportation systems, thereby fueling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the climate crisis. In so doing, they have created "unconstitutional conditions"—depriving the young people of their rights to a healthful and pleasant environment, and their rights to life, liberty and property.
The climate-fueling actions, the suit says, have put the young people "in a position of danger with deliberate indifference to their safety in a manner that shocks the conscience."
The state's current GHG reduction limits "are not consistent with what the scientific consensus says is needed to stabilize the climate system," the suit states. Rather than take action to address climate change, the suit says the state and the agencies "have acted with shocking deliberate indifference and abdication of duty to address this crisis." That's despite fact that the defendants were aware of the impacts of the climate crisis "[s]ince at least the late 1980s, well before these plaintiffs were born."
The youths were forced to bring the suit "because the fossil fuel-based energy and transportation system created, supported, and operated by the defendants, and the systematic, affirmative aggregate actions which make up and support that system, severely endangers plaintiffs and their ability to grow to adulthood safely and enjoy the rights, benefits, and privileges of past generations of Washingtonians due to the resulting climate change."
The suit lists the specific dangers the climate crisis is causing the plaintiffs.
For 17-year-old James, for example, a member of the Quinault Indian Nation, his coastal village of Taholah has to be relocated because of sea level rise. "This critical loss of his place-based heritage, a heritage that dates back to time immemorial, is irreplaceable, and permanent," the suit states. The traditional clamming activities he takes part in are also becoming limited because of climate change impacts including algal blooms, ocean acidification, and warming waters. Increasingly severe storms have also had an impact on his family, causing power outages. All these impacts, the suit says, are causing mental and emotional stress, and without meaningful action to address the climate crisis, the impacts are set to worsen.
A plan for state-level energy and transportation systems that support a healthy climate system is feasible, the suit says:
"A zero-CO2 energy and transportation system for Washington state can be achieved by 2050 without acquiring carbon credits from other states or countries. In other words, actual physical emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels can be eliminated with technologies that are now available or under development.
Experts have already concluded the feasibility of, and prepared a roadmap for, the transition of all of Washington's energy use (for electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industry) to a 100 percent renewable energy system by 2050. In addition to the direct benefits of avoiding a destabilized climate system, this transition will reduce air pollution and save lives and costs associated with air pollution.
Seventeen-year-old plaintiff Aji Piper, for one, is optimistic.
"I feel hopeful because of this lawsuit, like grass tips emerging from thawing snow. This is my state government's chance to rise up and take responsibility for their actions. This is also a chance for my government to use real science in the policy they create. This lawsuit gives the Washington state government a chance to take the lead and commit to the citizens it serves and the lives it must protect," he said in a statement.
The lawsuit is being supported by the Oregon-based nonprofit Our Children's Trust, which has other similar state-level legal actions underway as well as the landmark Juliana v. United States, in which Aji Piper is also a plaintiff.
A trial date for the new lawsuit, Aji P. v. State of Washington, is set for Feb. 19, 2019.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.