Fourteen young people on Wednesday filed a groundbreaking constitutional climate lawsuit against the Hawaii Department of Transportation and its director, Jade Butay; Hawaii Gov. David Ige; and the State of Hawaii.\r\n\r\n\u0022Climate change is drastically changing lives around the world and we need our governments to take it and us seriously.\u0022\r\n\r\nIn Navahine F. v. Hawaii Department of Transportation—the world\u0026#039;s first constitutional climate lawsuit focused exclusively on combating transportation-related pollution—the youth plaintiffs argue that their state DOT\u0026#039;s promotion of a system that produces high levels of greenhouse gas emissions harms their communities, infringes upon their constitutional rights, and jeopardizes their ability to \u0022live healthful lives in Hawaii now and into the future.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022I want the defendants to understand that climate change is not an impending doom, but a preventable crisis that is currently harming Hawaii\u0026#039;s youth,\u0022 plaintiff Mesina D.-R. said in a statement.\r\n\r\nThis group of young people—who range in age from nine to 18 and are from the islands of Hawai\u0026#039;i, O\u0026#039;ahu, Moloka\u0026#039;i, Maui, and Kaua\u0026#039;i—is going to court to ensure that HDOT fulfills its legal mandate to fully decarbonize Hawaii\u0026#039;s transportation sector by 2045, which is the state Legislature\u0026#039;s deadline for achieving an economy with net-negative carbon emissions.\r\n\r\nThe plaintiffs are asking the court to issue declarations of law that HDOT is violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment—including a life-sustaining climate system—as well as the state\u0026#039;s public trust doctrine to \u0022conserve and protect Hawaii\u0026#039;s natural beauty and all natural resources.\u0022 The plaintiffs are also seeking injunctive relief to \u0022bring the state transportation system into constitutional compliance based on the best available science.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022The Hawaii Department of Transportation has been a flat tire in our transition to a decarbonized future for too long,\u0022 said Leinā\u0026#039;ala Ley, an attorney in Earthjustice\u0026#039;s Mid-Pacific office and co-counsel for the youth plaintiffs. \u0022With this lawsuit, these young people are helping steer the agency towards genuine climate justice in the Hawaiian Islands.\u0022\r\n\r\nCompared with people born in 1960, children born in 2020 are expected to endure a two to seven-fold increase in extreme weather events such as heatwaves, wildfires, crop failures, droughts, and floods.\r\n\r\nAlthough Hawaii lawmakers have acknowledged the gravity of the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis and enacted some measures aimed at addressing it, the state\u0026#039;s per capita greenhouse gas emissions remain higher than 85% of the nations on Earth and are expected to be just 30% lower in 2045—the target date for realizing a \u0022Zero Emissions Clean Economy\u0022—than they were in 2016.\r\n\r\nEmissions from the transportation sector are a major reason why, as they are on the rise and projected to make up almost 60% of Hawaii\u0026#039;s total greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.\r\n\r\n\u0022While in many ways Hawaii has been a leader in recognizing and setting goals to address the climate emergency, progress is slow because of the unconstitutional, and uncooperative, actions of the state Department of Transportation,\u0022 said Andrea Rodgers, senior litigation attorney at Our Children\u0026#039;s Trust and co-counsel for the youth plaintiffs. \u0022It is vital that the court ensures that the Department of Transportation catches up with others in the state working towards decarbonizing Hawaii\u0026#039;s economy to protect the lives of these young people.\u0022\r\n\r\nAs Earthjustice and Our Children\u0026#039;s Trust explained:\r\n\r\n\r\nHawaii\u0026#039;s public trust doctrine, rooted in the kānāwai (laws) of the Hawaiian Kingdom and carried forward in the state constitution, is a well-established requirement of government agencies to protect natural and cultural resources for the benefit of Native Hawaiians and all of the people of Hawaii. Hawaii\u0026#039;s Supreme Court has already concluded that climate change \u0022harms present and future generations,\u0022 and that Hawaii is specifically \u0022vulnerable to the ecological damage caused by an unhealthy climate system.\u0022 Similarly, the Hawaii state Legislature has repeatedly found that \u0022climate change poses a serious threat to the economic well-being, public health, natural resources, and the environment of Hawaii,\u0022 and has directed state agencies to reduce greenhouse emissions to below zero.\r\n\r\n\r\nHDOT, however, \u0022is doing the opposite of what the law requires,\u0022 said Rodgers.\r\n\r\n\u0022By prioritizing infrastructure that promotes travel in fossil-fueled vehicles,\u0022 she continued, \u0022HDOT demonstrates a pattern and practice that locks in and escalates the use of fossil fuels, instead of reducing them.\u0022\r\n\r\nYoung people involved in the case made clear what is at stake if HDOT fails to swiftly implement a non-polluting transportation system.\r\n\r\n\u0022Climate change is very bad,\u0022 said plaintiff Taliya N. \u0022It causes extreme droughts and extreme rain. There is either not enough water for my family to shower or way too much water and I can\u0026#039;t get to school because the roads are flooded.\u0022\r\n\r\nKaliko T. noted that \u0022climate change really impacted my life because I lost my house in a flood.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Luckily I was not in my house at the time because I would probably have lost my life,\u0022 the plaintiff added. \u0022Climate change is drastically changing lives around the world and we need our governments to take it and us seriously.\u0022\r\n\r\nNavahine F. v. Hawaii Department of Transportation is one of several youth-led constitutional climate lawsuits brought by Our Children\u0026#039;s Trust and fellow public interest groups like Earthjustice. Our Children\u0026#039;s Trust also represents 16 youth plaintiffs who are slated to proceed to trial in February 2023 in Held v. State of Montana and 21 youth plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States, a landmark federal constitutional climate lawsuit that the Biden administration is currently trying to quash.