Landmark climate change ruling in U.S. should be repeated here

American youth won a lawsuit against the government saying climate change puts their future livelihoods at risk.

Dear Sir:

Climate change is the greatest national security threat to every country on this choking planet. The problems we have created today will be inherited by our youth. Along with these truths, let me describe what is considered to be “the most important lawsuit on the planet right now”.

Plaintiffs are Dr. James Hansen, retired from NASA and now a professor at Columbia University in the U.S. and best known for his research in climatology, along with 21 youths, aged 8-19 years of age, are suing the American government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property and their right to essential public trust resources, by permitting, encouraging and otherwise enabling continued exploitation, production, and combustion of fossil fuels.

The youth assert that the government and fossil fuel industry’s actions and inactions with respect to their obligations regarding regulating environmental pollutants has violated their rights to due process and has done this in favour of older generations.

The plaintiffs (youth)  allege that the government and its agencies have taken action or failed to take action that has resulted in increased carbon pollution through fossil fuel extraction, production, consumption, transportation and exportation.

The youth allege that the government’s and fossil fuel industry’s actions in this case has created a life-threatening situation.

They have wilfully ignored long standing and overwhelming scientific evidence of that impending harm to the young and future generations.  The government has taken action through subsidies, regulations, etc. that creates massive CO2 emissions and has failed to limit such emissions despite its duty to do so.

The government’s duty is to regulate CO2 emissions for the benefit of the public health and a deliberate indifference to the purported catastrophic risk to their health and well-being “shocks the conscience”.

Judge Coffin of the U.S. federal court in Eugene, Oregon decided in favour of the youth and Dr. James Hansen’s lawsuit on behalf of future generations. The plaintiffs attorney said “this decision is one of the most significant in U.S. history.” Judge Coffin decided that their Complaint will move forward and put climate science front and center of the federal courts.

This is a landmark constitutional climate change case against the government and fossil fuel industry in the U.S.

Our time for climate action is long past due. It seems to me that this court case could be just as pertinent to the Canadian Constitution and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

What future are we leaving our youth due to our actions or inactions?

Mary Ann Shannon, Terrace, B.C.

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