Hawaii settles kids’ climate lawsuit, agrees to cut emissions

The state of Hawaii reached a settlement with young people who sued the state over climate change, and it agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its transportation sector.

The settlement stems from a 2022 lawsuit in which 13 youths sued Hawaii over its transportation emissions, arguing that the state’s transport system infringed on their right to a clean and healthy environment. The plaintiffs are between the ages of 11 and 20.

While a few similar youth climate cases have cropped up across the nation and globally, the Thursday agreement is the first time such a case has been settled.

Under the agreement, Hawaii will produce a greenhouse gas reduction plan, with interim emissions reduction targets through 2045.

It also will set up a youth council to advise the state’s transportation department on climate, invest in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and put $40 million toward electric vehicle charging.

“This partnership marks a pivotal step towards preserving Hawaii for future generations — one that will have a ripple effect on the world,” said Rylee Brooke K., one of the young people who sued, in a written statement.

“I hope our case inspires youth to always use their voices to hold leaders accountable for the future they will inherit,” the 16-year-old added.

Other climate cases in the U.S. have seen mixed results. Kids in Montana last year successfully sued the state over climate change, but a similar nationwide suit has not seen success.

Updated at 1:05 p.m.

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