The settlement, described by legal experts as historic, includes a detailed plan to fully de-carbonise Hawaii’s transportation by 2045.

In a landmark legal victory, a group of young climate activists in Hawaii has won a significant settlement that mandates the state’s Department of Transportation to aggressively work towards a zero-emission transportation system. The settlement, announced recently, responds to a lawsuit initiated by thirteen young plaintiffs and represents a notable success in Environmental justice, emphasizing the urgency of sustainable transportation to combat climate change.

Governor Josh Green of Hawaii, addressing the plaintiffs, underscored the constitutional right to advocate for life-sustaining climate policies. He expressed hope that this groundbreaking agreement would spark similar actions nationwide. The settlement, described by legal experts as historic, includes a detailed plan to fully decarbonize Hawaii’s transportation by 2045, encompassing ground, sea, and inter-island air transport.

This legal accord, stemming from the June 2022 lawsuit titled Navahine F v Hawaii Department of Transportation, marks a pivotal moment in climate litigation. The young plaintiffs argued that the state’s pro-fossil fuel transportation policies not only increased greenhouse gas emissions but also infringed on their constitutional rights to a clean and healthful environment. The complaint highlighted that existing policies favored highway expansions over sustainable alternatives like electrified transit and enhanced infrastructure for walking and biking.

The settlement promises not only a vision but enforceable steps towards reducing the state’s carbon footprint significantly. Denise Antolini, an emeritus professor of law at the University of Hawaii, emphasized the importance of the settlement’s enforceability, distinguishing it from mere promises.

As a response to the settlement, state officials, including Ed Sniffen, the head of the state’s transportation department, acknowledged the challenging but crucial targets set for 2045. The agreement also involves all three branches of Hawaii’s government, demonstrating a unified approach to meeting these climate goals. The judicial branch will oversee the implementation of the settlement agreement until the state achieves its zero-emission targets.

This settlement is one of several youth-led constitutional climate cases spearheaded by Our Children’s Trust, aimed at holding states accountable for their environmental commitments. The success in Hawaii reflects a growing recognition of the legal rights of younger generations to seek remedies for environmental negligence and is likely to influence further climate litigation across the United States and potentially globally.

Original source: https://www.onegreenplanet.org

Hawaii teens win climate lawsuit against the Department of Transport