Landmark ruling announcing legal duty to future generations

19th November 2015: Landmark ruling announcing legal duty to future generations

A landmark decision has been made on Our Children’s Trust case where eight youth petitioners filed a case against the US Washington State Ecology Department, requesting that the department write a carbon emissions rule that protects the atmosphere for their generation and those to come. In response the Washington Court recognises constitutional and public trust rights, announcing the legal duty to protect the atmosphere for present and future generations. “[I]f ever there were a time to recognize through action this right to preservation of a healthful and pleasant atmosphere, the time is now.”

Judge Hill declared “[the youths’] very survival depends upon the will of their elders to act now, decisively and unequivocally, to stem the tide of global warming…before doing so becomes first too costly and then too late.” Highlighting inextricable relationships between navigable waters and the atmosphere, and finding that separating the two is “nonsensical,” the judge found the public trust doctrine mandates that the state act through its designated agency “to protect what it holds in trust.” The court confirmed what the Washington youth and youth across the nation have been arguing in courts of law, that “[t]he state has a constitutional obligation to protect the public’s interest in natural resources held in trust for the common benefit of the people.”


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Image by: Sir Nerian

Posted by Future Justice on 23 November 2015

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