A group of kids is suing Florida Gov. Rick Scott, claiming he “endangered” their future and violated their constitutional rights by not doing anything to combat climate change.
The youngsters filed their lawsuit on Monday in Leon County Court.
“It is the responsibility of the state to uphold the constitution, and these young people have a fundamental right to a stable climate system,” said Guy Burns, lead counsel for the eight plaintiffs, most of whom are teens.
The youths are being represented by the Oregon-based nonprofit organization Our Children’s Trust, which is supporting similar suits from children across the country.
They range in age from 10 to 20 years old — and include climate change activists Levi Draheim and Delaney Reynolds, who expressed their outrage in a statement.
“The reason that I’m a part of this lawsuit is because I believe that the climate change crisis is the biggest threat that my generation will ever have to face,” Reynolds explained.
“Right now we live in what I like to call the state of denial because the state of Florida is doing nothing to address climate change, but everything to cause it. That is completely immoral,” she said. “If we ever want to have a future of living here in Florida, if my children ever want to live here in Florida, we need to start working together to implement solutions for climate change or the state of Florida won’t exist.”
For years, Scott has refused to address the issue of climate change — even going so far as to tell reporters “I’m not a scientist” when asked his opinion on the subject in 2014.
He reportedly banned his administration members from using the term, along with the phrase “global warming.”
“Gov. Scott says he’s not a scientist. Well, neither are most of the people that are forced to take action because the state is failing us,” Reynolds told the Miami Herald on Monday.
The youth plaintiffs have been getting compared on social media to David Hogg and the young South Florida activists that have been pushing for gun reform in the wake of the Parkland school shooting.
“Rocking it again,” tweeted local climate activist Emily Johnston.
The kids not only name Scott in their suit but several state agencies as well.
“We can’t delay anymore because climate change is a huge problem,” said Draheim, 10.
“We must deal with it right now and start reducing the emissions that are causing it,” she added. “We need to fix the problem not just talk about it.”
In their complaint, the children claim that local officials caused harm to both current and future generations of Floridians by using a “fossil fuel-based energy system” that causes “dangerous levels of greenhouse gas pollution.”
They also claim that the defendants have caused “substantial impairment to vital natural resources” — which have ultimately brought on climate change. The group is seeking to establish a “Climate Recovery Plan” to combat the effects.
“The Florida Constitution recognizes that these young people have certain fundamental rights that state government must not violate,” said Andrea Rodgers, co-counsel for the youth plaintiffs and senior attorney for Our Children’s Trust. “Unfortunately, when it comes to climate change, Florida state government has actively pursued and implemented policies that result in dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions and threaten the life, liberty, and property of these youth. The court needs to step in to ensure that the rights of these young people are protected.”