Hawaii’s children are tired of government officials doing nothing about climate change, and now they’re taking their case to the courts. Our Children’s Trust is a non-profit organization of lawyers who represent youth, securing their legal right to a safe climate. The organization has cited that the Hawai‘I Department of Transportation (HDOT) is the biggest culprit for climate change. Kids are starting to realize the drastic effects of climate change and how it will negatively impact their future. It’s already obvious that climate change is changing our planet, and the island of Hawaii can easily see rising sea levels and draughts. Now they have filed a lawsuit to do something about it.
Andrea Rodgers is a lawyer and lead attorney for the case at Our Children’s Trust. She claims that HDOT refuses to meet emissions goals, and they’re either intentionally or unintentionally roadblocking legislation to remedy climate change. The transit sector comprises nearly 60% of all of Hawaii’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Their case hopes to get HDOT to reduce their emissions and become carbon neutral by 2045.
How the Lawsuit Began
The inciting incident for one 15-year-old plaintiff of the lawsuit is the moment she visited the shoreline with a relative. The relative said they used to play volleyball down the beach. With rising sea levels, that part of the beach is now always flooded by the tide. Another 14-year-old plaintiff lives off the grid with her parents. She says that her family relies on rainwater as a source of fresh water for their home. With severe draughts, they can no longer use rainwater to survive and seriously had to cut back on their water usage. Hawaii has a tropical climate that has heavy rainfall year round. With the draughts, there are still bursts of rain. This sudden rain comes in after a draught and creates dangerous floods. Kids can’t even get to school during this flooding because of closed roads and bridges covered in water.
The lawsuit is one of several that Our Children’s Trust has against the state in regards to climate change. Our Children’s Trust works in more states than just Hawaii. They recently won in Utah when they found the state favors fossil fuel companies at the expense of residents’ health and safety. With several pending lawsuits, there’s a good chance that the company will win a couple of them. They hope to create precedents to change laws and hope for carbon neutrality within our lifetimes.