Screenshot of the first page of the lawsuit filed by eight young Floridians, ages 10 to 19, against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, state agencies, and the heads of those agencies as defendants, on 16 April 2018. Graphic: Our Children's Trust

By Georgina Gustin
16 April 2018

(Inside Climate News) – Eight young Floridians, ages 10 to 19, sued their state and its climate-policy-averse governor on Monday for failing to protect residents from the impacts of a warming climate.

They say they already see signs of climate change around them—from powerful hurricanes to extreme heat waves to tidal flooding that now regularly washes into coastal roads and parks as sea level rises—and they want the state to do something about it.

The lawsuit filed Monday is the latest in a wave of legal cases filed by children against states and the federal government that accuse government of depriving them of the fundamental right to a stable climate.

The Florida plaintiffs accuse the state of violating their constitutional rights by "perpetuating an energy system that is based on fossil fuels."

"The plaintiffs are asking the state of Florida to adhere to its legal and moral obligation to protect current and future generations from the intensifying impacts of climate change," the group said in a statement.

Their lawsuit asks that state officials "prepare and implement an enforceable comprehensive" plan to phase out fossil fuel use and "draw down excess atmospheric CO2 through forest and soil protection so as to stabilize the climate system."

The lawsuit names the state, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, state agencies and the heads of those agencies as defendants.

In 2015, journalists in Florida reported that Scott had placed a gag order on the terms "climate change" and "global warming" within state's Department of Environmental Protection—an especially notable move, given the state is among the most vulnerable to climate change, with 1,000 miles of coastline and millions of people living in low-lying areas.

Scott has also ducked questions about climate change, using the response: "I'm not a scientist."

The governor's office responded to questions about the lawsuit in an emailed statement: "The Governor signed one of the largest environmental protection budgets in Florida's history last month—investing $4 billion into Florida's environment," said McKinley Lewis, a spokesperson for Scott. "The Governor is focused on real solutions to protect our environment—not political theater or a lawsuit orchestrated by a group based in Eugene, Oregon." [more]

Florida Kids Sue Gov. Scott Over Climate Change: You Have 'Moral Obligation' to Protect Us

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