These kids sued Washington state for failing to act on climate change and won | KUOW News and Information

These kids sued Washington state for failing to act on climate change and won

May 5, 2016

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Aji and Adonis Piper, two of eight youth plaintiffs in the case, Zoe and Stella Foster vs. Washington Department of Ecology, and  their attorney Andrea Rodgers.

The kids took the Department of Ecology to court over inaction on curbing carbon emissions in the state. 

Ecology periodically reports to the state Legislature on human-caused climate change and recommends whether greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced.

In 2014, Ecology issued a report saying "Climate change is not a far-off risk [...] If we delay action by even a few years, the rate of reduction needed to stabilize the global climate would be beyond anything achieved historically and would be more costly."

Despite that statement, Ecology recommended "no changes be made to the state's statutory emissions requirements at this time."

In the time since, Ecology has been working on a rule to limit carbon pollution, but failed to deliver it with a speed the young plaintiffs found acceptable. In February 2016, the department withdrew a proposed rule to allow for further revision.

King County Superior Court Judge Hollis Hill agreed with the plaintiffs that climate change is urgent and that action to curb it must be put on a deadline.

"What she said," recalled attorney Rodgers, "is 'these kids can't wait.'"