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Landmark US youth case
HISTORIC: A group of 16 Montanans aged five to 22 have won what is considered the US’s first successful constitutional and youth-led climate lawsuit against the state government for violating their right to a “clean and healthful environment” by promoting fossil fuel policies, the Washington Post reported. The outlet said that a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act had blocked considerations of the climate impact of energy projects. But, thanks to the ruling, that is now unconstitutional.
‘LEGAL PRECEDENT’: The court decision has been described as a “landmark” case and is expected to set “a new legal precedent”, spurring similar lawsuits, Inside Climate News reported. In an interview with the outlet, Prof Michael Gerrard, founder and director of Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, pointed out that the decision specifically considered fossil fuels as responsible for climate change, which in turn produces “serious health and environmental impacts”.
THE CHALLENGE: NPR reported that it is now up to the state legislature of Montana to ensure compliance with the new policy, adding: “That leaves slim chances for immediate change in a fossil fuel-friendly state where Republicans dominate the statehouse.”
- HIMALAYAN LANDSLIDES AND FLOODS: Torrential rain and subsequent landslides have left more than 70 people dead in the Indian Himalayan region, Reuters wrote.
- HAWAII FIRES: The death toll from the wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui has risen to 111, BBC News reported. It is the worst disaster in Hawaii’s history.
- UK ‘FALLS BEHIND’: The UK is set to fall behind all other major economies in the growth of low-carbon power generation capacity for the rest of the decade, according to a new study covered by the Financial Times.
- GREEN HYDROGEN: A report in Costa Rican publication Ojo al Clima examined why the nation should prioritise green hydrogen production over fossil gas expansion.
- TWITTER EXODUS: Almost half of the 380,000 users who tweet about climate change and biodiversity have abandoned the platform after it was taken over by billionaire Elon Musk, the Guardian reported. It added that climate misinformation has surged on the site.
The number of barrels per day that global oil demand reached in June – an “all-time high”, according to figures reported by the Financial Times.
- A study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that high and prolonged exposure to extreme heat “was associated with faster cognitive decline” for socially vulnerable populations, such as those living in poor neighbourhoods, and certain ethnic groups, including Black people.
- By conducting surveys with more than 2,000 people in Norway, research in Global Environmental Change found that human actions causing emissions is the main reason that people feel anger about climate change.
- A new research paper in Climate Policy has created “an original codebook for classifying ad hominem arguments made by climate contrarians”, drawing on 55 contrarian blogs and 15 conservative thinktank websites published between 2008 and 2020.
(For more, see Carbon Brief’s in-depth daily summaries of the top climate news stories on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.)
How the IRA will help to cut US emissions
This time last year – the US – the world’s second-largest emitter, passed the largest domestic climate bill in history. The Inflation Reduction Act allocated more than $400bn in spending on emissions-cutting measures. In a guest post for Carbon Brief, scientists used a range of models to examine the extent to which the IRA could cut emissions, finding it could bring the country “significantly closer to meeting its 2030 climate target”. The chart above shows the extent to which the IRA could slash emissions by 2035 (blue), when compared to scenarios without the bill (red).
Ecuador’s referendum to stop Amazon oil drilling
On Sunday, people in Ecuador will head to the polls to vote on whether oil and gas drilling should be banned in Yasuní National Park, a biodiverse forest in the Amazon that is home to two Indigenous communities, the Tagaeri and the Taromenane. The first-of-its-kind referendum could have major repercussions for fossil fuel production in Latin America.
Ahead of the vote, Carbon Brief interviewed Pedro Bermeo, spokesperson for Yasunidos, an Ecuadorian coalition of social organisations, Indigenous communities, researchers and other stakeholders who have campaigned for the referendum to be held for the last 10 years.
Carbon Brief: How did the idea of a referendum to halt oil drilling in the Yasuní come about?
Pedro Bermeo: In 2013, the [former Ecuadorian] president [Rafael Correa] cancelled the Yasuní ITT initiative, which was the first proposal in the world that sought to leave crude oil in the ground in exchange for financial compensation from major-emitting countries.
That year, the Yasunidos group emerged to propose the first public consultation, inaugurating the rights of nature and the country’s right to be recognised as plurinational, as the 2008 Constitution mandates. [Plurinational means composed of various nations, including Indigenous nations.]
Yet, the state violated participation rights and illegally cancelled 60% of the 750,000 signatures [that we collected].
In 2022, we won a lawsuit, which paved the way for the referendum.
CB: What does this referendum mean for Indigenous people, isolated communities and Ecuadorian citizens?
PB: We are defending with votes what the Indigenous communities in voluntary isolation protected with spears. They have resisted the logging, oil and rubber industries. This consultation is life or death for these people.
The rest of the population has suffered the impacts of extractive activities. A spill on the Ecuadorian coast of more than 1.2bn barrels [of oil] affected Afro-descendant people living there.
Ecuador is mired in a crisis of poverty, hopelessness and violence. The public consultation represents hope for the country and the world that we can do things differently.
The discussion itself already has a huge impact, regardless of the result. It means that all the presidential candidates have had to take a position on this.
CB: What are the next steps?
PB: This consultation has binding effects. It has teeth. If the vote [to stop oil drilling in the Yasuní Park] won, the Ecuadorian state would have one year to halt extractive activities. There must be a process of environmental remediation and a progressive and orderly withdrawal [of oil and gas activity].
That will send a message that the world can do [referendums] like this.
The true wealth of Ecuador is not under its soil. It is its people, its nature – which we must protect. We will continue to defend them.
AFRICAN ACTION: Al Jazeera explored how women are leading the fight against climate change in Africa by telling the story of Cécile Bibiane Ndjebetl, a coordinator of an NGO in Cameroon advocating for Indigenous and rural women’s rights.
METHANE THREAT: The Conversation explained why global methane emissions have risen since 2006 and how it may be a signal that “a great transition in Earth’s climate has begun”.
CARIBBEAN IMPACTS: A Climate Tracker podcast interviewed Indigenous climate justice journalist Maureen Valmond about how native communities in Dominica in the Caribbean are facing climate change impacts, such as hurricanes.
- Energy UK, policy manager | Salary: £36,750-£48,300. Location: London (hybrid)
- BRAC, climate change specialist | Salary: Unknown. Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
- Belfast City Council, project manager, local energy systems | Salary: £47,573-£50,608. Location: Belfast, UK
- Energy voice, reporter | Salary: Unknown. Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
DeBriefed is written in rotation by Carbon Brief’s team and edited by Daisy Dunne. Please send any tips or feedback to [email protected]
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DeBriefed 18 August 2023: Landmark US youth climate case; Himalayan landslides; Ecuador votes on Amazon’s future
DeBriefed Landmark US youth climate case; Himalayan landslides; Ecuador votes on Amazon’s future
DeBriefed 18 August 2023