Kids Are Trying to Force Rick Scott to Face Climate Change in Court

Florida Gov. Rick Scott
Florida Gov. Rick Scott
Photo: AP

Those meddling kids are at it again—this time, in Florida.

A group of eight young people—ages 10 to 20—announced a lawsuit Monday against their sunshine state of Florida, so that Gov. Rick Scott takes action on climate change, according to The Miami Herald. Mind you, Scott is the same dude who pulled the “I’m not a scientist” argument to avoid talking about climate change while, at the same time, banning state officials from using the term. This is going to be fun.


The youth are alleging that the governor and his administration have failed to take appropriate action on the threat of rising sea levels in Florida, and that they’ve made “unconstitutional contributions to climate change and creation and operation of a fossil fuel-based energy system.” The plaintiffs want to see state officials whip up a “Climate Recovery Plan” that uses science to “stabilize the climate system and protect the vital resources” plaintiffs rely on. Really, they want Florida to figure out how the hell it’s going to survive climate change.

The state is especially at risk as far as climate impacts go, experiencing annoying flooding events on the regular and sea level rise that threatens to put the entire southern tip underwater. That includes the acclaimed Everglades, the metropolitan area of Miami, and all the people and wildlife who call these places home. The economic damage will be real, and it’ll hit the poorest the hardest.

That hasn’t encouraged our boy Scott to do anything about the problem—well, until recently. The governor is running for the Senate, and he’s trying to use “the environment” as a way to rack up votes. As POLITICO uncovered, that was the real motivation for his call to ban offshore drilling in Florida.

The governor fools no one, though.

He’s no environmental champion, and these seven young people recognize that. So they’re taking action, with the help of Our Children’s Trust. This is the same organization that’s succeeded in securing a trial date for a federal climate lawsuit led by 21 kids. Our Children’s Trust has already won a kids’ climate court case in Massachusetts.

In the age where old, bald white dudes in high chairs are making the decisions that could have impacts for centuries, kids seem to be the only ones with some common sense. Youth helped the Colombian Amazon gain legal personhood so that it would be protected for future generations. They’re leading the next big climate march. Scott better get ready.

[h/t The Miami Herald]

Update 4/16/18 2:20 p.m.: This story has been updated to clarify that the oldest youth plaintiff is 20, not 19, as the complaint states. The homie, Oscar, had a birthday recently. Happy belated, Oscar.


Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.


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Fairly reasonable request for relief from Reynolds v. State of Florida. Totally worth a read. Kids these days can write a terrific complaint.


WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray for declaratory and injunctive relief against Defendants, and request that the Court:

1. Declare that the Defendants have a mandatory, fiduciary duty under the Public Trust Doctrine to prevent substantial impairment to the state’s Public Trust Resources;

2. Declare that the Plaintiffs have fundamental rights to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and property, which includes a stable climate system capable of sustaining human life;

3. Declare that the climate change and fossil fuel-based energy system created and operated by the Defendants are in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine and Florida Constitution;

4. Order Defendants to fulfill their mandatory, fiduciary duty to protect the Public Trust Resources of the state from waste and substantial impairment caused by dangerous levels of GHGs pursuant to the common law, Article II, Section 7(a), Article X, Section 11, and Article X, Section 16 of the Florida Constitution;

5. Order Defendants to prepare a consumption-based inventory of Florida’s CO2 and GHG emissions;

6. Order Defendants to prepare and implement an enforceable comprehensive statewide remedial plan, including specific dates and benchmark targets, to phase out fossil fuel use and draw down excess atmospheric CO2 through forest and soil protection so as to stabilize the climate system and protect the vital natural resources on which Plaintiffs now and in the future will depend;

7. Preliminarily and permanently enjoin Defendants from substantially impairing the natural resources and scenic beauty of the state of Florida in violation of the common law and Florida Constitution.

8. Retain jurisdiction over this action to monitor and enforce Defendants’ compliance with the statewide remedial plan and all associated order of this Court;

9. Grant such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper; and

10. Award costs and attorneys’ fees for the maintenance of this action

11. Buy Florida man a new set of teeth and methadone.