End of the line for photogenic teens?

DSC_6095 Appeals Court Dismisses Landmark Youth Climate Lawsuit Vs. U.S. Government says ClimateLiabilityNews, or if you prefer the Dork Side, Climate Kidz case scuttled by 9th Circuit Court. And the reasons appear to be much as before. This is Juliana, if you haven't been paying attention; I say that so that Search will find it when I need it.

Read the judgement here; although for nominally sober judges is reads like they've been at the sherry: A substantial evidentiary record documents that the federal government has long promoted fossil fuel use despite knowing that it can cause catastrophic climate change, and that failure to change existing policy may hasten an environmental apocalypse. Probably, they're feeling a bit guilty about dismissing it, so have thrown them a bone1.

According to Vox, Andrea Rodgers, a senior attorney at Our Children’s Trust, the nonprofit backing the youth who filed the lawsuit, described the decision in an email as “unprecedented and contrary to American principles of justice.” This is of course a lie. It has several precedents, most obviously Alsup, as my previous post noted. Have these people no shame?2. And the reasonning here is similar: the panel held that it was beyond the power of an Article III court to order, design, supervise, or implement the plaintiffs’ requested remedial plan where any effective plan would necessarily require a host of complex policy decisions entrusted to the wisdom and discretion of the executive and legislative branches. In case you're tempted to argue "but that leaves us no recourse!" I point out that you are wrong: the forum for resolution of such disputes is the political process; if you reply "but we get nowhere with that!" then the reply is: well, yes, indeed. So, you need to think about why very carefully, rather than go forum-shopping.

The judgement is weak scientifically and factually; I'm actually rather surprised at some elementary mistakes they make; just possibly, they are repeated the Juliana errors. But in the 1990s, the EPA implored the government to act before it was too late. Nonetheless, by 2014, U.S. fossil fuel emissions had climbed to 5.4 billion metric tons, up substantially from 1965. This growth shows no signs of abating is drivel3.

So what of the plaintiffs claim that the government has violated their constitutional rights, including a claimed right under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to a “climate system capable of sustaining human life.”? First, allow me to note that previous reasonning in the chain (particularised injury, and causation) that the court accepts seems weak to me; I'd expect that to get scrutinised more carefully if it goes to appeal. Then, we note the court's Reasonable jurists can disagree about whether the asserted constitutional right exists. Ah, but they don't decide it, because they don't need to: In analyzing redressability, however, we assume its existence and then go on to find lack of standing. So, the "right" will have to wait for it's day in court.

Wittily, one reason for the court deciding not to act is the plaintiffs’ experts make plain that reducing the global consequences of climate change demands much more than cessation of the government’s promotion of fossil fuels. Rather, these experts opine that such a result calls for no less than a fundamental transformation of this country’s energy system, if not that of the industrialized world, and much more text around the same ideas5.

Update 2023/06: Youth Climate Lawsuit Against Federal Government Headed for Trial sez Yale, though they may be wrong about that, but the important bit is that the Yoof have decided that when they said X they really meant Y: the plaintiffs asked to amend their suit, pushing not for a change in policy, but instead for a ruling declaring that the nation’s fossil-fuel-based energy system is unconstitutional. Meh.


1. Or, as they put it, "The plaintiffs have compiled an extensive record, which at this stage in the litigation we take in the light most favorable to their claims". So, even taking all their claims favourably, they still don't win.

2. Don't answer that.

3. Note that although it's drivel, it seems to be quite easy to pick up the wrong stats: per person, per $ of GDP, and just the electricity sector are the easiest stats to run across. Also "fossil fuel emissions" is an odd phrase; I presume they mean "CO2 from fossil fuels" or somesuch.

4. But again, There is at least a genuine factual dispute as to whether those policies were a “substantial factor” in causing the plaintiffs’ injuries suggests the court leaning towards the plaintiffs in order to make the dismissal.

5. And as if designed to wind up Progressives, another prong in their argument is analogy with Rucho v. Common Cause. You can tell the Dork Side is crap and can't read, because they don't even mention that.


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It seems Davos' young Swedish Nightengale may be a Norwegian Blue:

a Facebook bug has revealed some Greta Thiunberg tweets are ghostwriten and/or edited by her father and a UNEP factotum.