Democrats: A healthy climate is a constitutional right

Source: By Jennifer Hijazi, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2020

Democratic senators introduced a resolution yesterday calling for a national climate recovery plan to insulate vulnerable children from the impacts of global warming.

The announcement comes five years after 21 youth plaintiffs ignited the landmark legal battle Juliana v. United States to compel the federal government to recognize what they claimed were inherent constitutional rights to a safe climate.

Led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the lawmakers echoed those arguments in the “Children’s Fundamental Rights and Climate Recovery Resolution,” saying that a healthy climate “is preservative of fundamental rights, including the rights to life, liberty, property, personal security, family autonomy [and] bodily integrity.”

The senators called for increased leadership to address the public health crisis borne from climate change, which poses a disproportionate threat to the physical and mental health of young people across the U.S.

Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island also signed their names to the resolution.

“Our children and grandchildren stand to be the greatest beneficiaries of the steps we take today to reduce our carbon footprint,” Whitehouse said in a statement. “It’s on all of us to take action to leave the next generation a healthy, hospitable planet while the window of opportunity to address climate change is still open.”