Fighting for Their Future: Hawai’i Kids Sue State Over Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A group of Hawai’ian youth is suing the state’s Department of Transportation, claiming that Hawai’i’s transportation system contributes to climate change and the destruction of homes and cultural traditions.

2 minute read

June 16, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Life Atlas Photography / Shutterstock

Kids and teens in Hawai’i are taking action on climate change by suing their state, reports Kea Wilson in Streetsblog. “Earlier this month, a coalition of young Hawaiian climate leaders ranging in age from 9 to 18 years old sued the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation and its director, plus Gov. David Ige, for the harm caused by the ‘active operation of a transportation system that results in high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, [which] is causing significant harm to their communities, violates their constitutional rights, and undermines their ability to ‘live healthful lives in Hawai’i now and into the future.’’”

“Across a sprawling 70-page suit, the children and teens described the harrowing traumas they’ve endured as a direct result of climate change, including the loss of their homes in catastrophic floods, the extended closure of critical roadways that have impeded their basic mobility, and the destruction of the beaches and ocean ecosystems that are deeply important to Hawaiian life.”

Andrea Rodgers, senior litigation attorney at Our Children’s Trust and co-counsel for the youth plaintiffs, “emphasizes that for the state of Hawai‘i to fulfill its legal obligation to its children and teens, policymakers and DOT leaders may not actually need to chart a radically different approach. They’ll just need to fund and implement the carbon-cutting strategies that they’ve already outlined, instead of ignoring them and building endless lane miles for drivers instead.”

Rodgers hopes that if the group is successful, the case could inspire a similar movement in other states.

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