Kids Are Suing Florida’s Governor Over Climate Change

The suit calls out Governor Rick Scott's failure to address the dangerous phenomenon for future generations.

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Facing the growing threat of climate change, a group of seven kids in Florida took action today and filed a lawsuit today against Governor Rick Scott. The suit alleges that Scott’s “deliberate indifference” of climate change puts young people at risk, and is a dramatic effort to force action from a governor who’s been notoriously averse to addressing the issue.

The seven young Florida residents named as plaintiffs are only between 10 and 20 years old, but their lawsuit argues that Scott’s failure to act on climate change “cannot ensure that [they] will grow to adulthood safely and enjoy the rights, benefits, and privileges of current generations of Floridians.” The group filed it in partnership with Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon nonprofit that’s worked to bring similar climate-related lawsuits by young people against state and federal governments. Most recently, the organization sued the federal government in a case with 21 young plaintiffs that’s set to go to trial in Eugene, Oregon in October.

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Scott has a dismal track record when it comes to climate change. In 2010, the governor notoriously said that he had “not been convinced” that climate change was a real, human-caused phenomenon, and declared “I’m not a scientist” when asked to give his opinion on the growing threat it poses to the planet. Along with supporting President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, rumors have swirled that he’s even banned the phrase in his administration. And that’s to say nothing of Florida’s legislative inaction on the issue in a state that’s particularly vulnerable to its risks, especially rising sea levels.

“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,” one the young plaintiffs, Delaney Reynolds, said in a statement. Reynolds, an 18-year-old student at the University of Miami, has been involved in climate activism from a young age and told the Tampa Bay Times that she reached out to Our Children’s Trust after hearing about its federal case. She continued, “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.”

It’s unclear if the lawsuit will have the same success as similar ones in heading to trial. But the lawsuit makes it clear that Florida is another of a growing number of battlegrounds where kids are ready to take the U.S. government to task over their future security.

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