Breaking News: Historic Victory in Hawai‘i Youth-Led Climate Lawsuit

In a groundbreaking development, youth plaintiffs in the Navahine v. Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT) case have secured a historic settlement, marking a pivotal moment in the global fight against climate change. This announcement was made during a joint press conference featuring Hawaiʻi Governor Josh Green, HDOT Director Edwin Sniffen, and the victorious youth plaintiffs, alongside their legal representatives from Our Children’s Trust and Earthjustice.

A Historic Milestone

Navahine v. HDOT stands as the world’s first youth-led constitutional climate case challenging climate pollution from a transportation system. This landmark case, brought by thirteen youth from across the Hawaiian Islands in June 2022, has achieved an unprecedented victory that promises systemic decarbonization of Hawai‘i’s state transportation system by 2045.

Key Elements of the Settlement

The settlement agreement mandates HDOT to undertake comprehensive measures to decarbonize the state’s transportation system, including:

  1. Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan: Within one year, HDOT will establish a detailed plan to fully decarbonize Hawaiʻi’s transportation system within the next 20 years. This plan will serve as a model for similar initiatives worldwide.
  2. Budget and Program Reform: The Department of Transportation’s budgeting and programming will be reformed to prioritize decarbonization efforts.
  3. New Leadership Unit: A specialized unit will be created to ensure that policies are implemented and targets are met, adhering to greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
  4. Youth Involvement: Youth plaintiffs will have a formal role in the decision-making process, with HDOT required to provide opportunities for feedback and input. A volunteer youth council will be established to advise on commitments and actions.
  5. Ongoing Judicial Oversight: The Court will maintain jurisdiction to ensure compliance with the settlement terms.

A Model for the World. The Navahine Settlement Agreement is unparalleled in scope and ambition, representing a significant step towards addressing climate change at a systemic level. The transportation sector, which is the largest source of emissions in the US and the third largest globally, will undergo transformative changes, setting an example for other governments.

A Decade-Long Journey. This victory is the culmination of over a decade of persistent effort by 169 plaintiffs, represented by Our Children’s Trust. Inspired by the Juliana v. United States case, which recognized youth rights to a stable climate system, the Hawai’i Supreme Court similarly acknowledged a constitutional right to a life-sustaining climate system under state law. This set the stage for the current victory, validating the rights of youth and emphasizing the urgency of climate action.

Celebration and Future Engagement

To celebrate this monumental achievement, an event will be held on June 24 at 10 am in Honolulu. Plaintiffs and their communities are invited to join in person, with a livestream available for those unable to attend physically. This event will not only commemorate the success but also reaffirm the commitment to continued climate action.

For more details on attending the celebration virtually, please visit our social media platforms (@youthvgov).

The settlement in Navahine v. HDOT is a beacon of hope in the ongoing battle against climate change. It demonstrates the power of youth activism and sets a precedent for future climate litigation. This victory is a testament to the resilience and determination of the youth plaintiffs and their supporters, paving the way for a sustainable and equitable future for all.

Stay tuned for the live announcement on our Facebook and Instagram channels at 1:30pm HST / 4:30pm PST / 5:30pm MT / 6:30pm CT / 7:30pm ET. Don’t miss this momentous occasion!