Environmental Activists Are Suing Governments Over Climate Change — and Winning

On Wednesday, the High Court in London ruled the UK government’s current stance on air pollution is “unlawful.” The ruling came about because the government has failed to impose new policies on 45 local authority areas with illegal levels of air pollution. According to the Royal College of Physicians, air pollution contributes to nearly 40,000 deaths in the UK each year.

This is the third court case the UK government has lost to ClientEarth, an organization of environmental activist lawyers. As reported by The Guardian, the new ruling will require clean air policies to be overseen by the courts rather than ministers and local officials.

“The history of this litigation shows that good faith, hard work, and sincere promises are not enough and it seems court must keep the pressure on to ensure compliance is actually achieved,” said Justice Garnham, the judge who heard the case. ClientEarth lawyer Anna Heslop explained in a statement that the initial air pollution issue was meant to be solved 8 years ago, but the government’s failure to implement any solutions has allowed the problem to go unchecked.

While it would be difficult to predict whether the court case will improve the UK’s air pollution problem, it may stand a better chance being monitored by the courts — which have taken note of the government’s past failures to rectify the issue.

The UK isn’t the only country embroiled in lawsuits related to environmental issues, but ClientEarth’s third win in the country could serve as a warning to other nations. If anything, it demonstrates that legal action can successfully promote change; a precedent that could be particularly influential for groups that have, or are considering, perusing legal action against governments over climate change.

As Reuters reported in December, a number of high-profile climate change cases are expected to take place in the United States this year. Similar lawsuits in Germany and Norway could also make headlines. Whether the lawsuits involve governments or fossil fuel companies, each case is aimed at those perceived of either knowingly causing — or failing to take action against the progression of — climate change.

Back in December, eight northeastern states moved to sue the Environmental Protection Agency. The suit sought to require the EPA to enforce new restrictions on Midwestern states generating air pollution, which the east coast states claimed was, essentially, blowing over to its cities.

In January, the state of New York, led by Mayor Bill de Blasio, sued multiple fossil fuel companies for their contributions to climate change through knowingly burning harmful fossil fuels and “intentionally mis[leading] the public to protect their profits.”

At the time, ClientEarth’s Sophie Marjanac told Reuters that there was a trend toward litigation around climate change and that “the lack of political action in the United States may increase that trend.”

One thing is clear: citizens have taken notice that those in charge aren’t doing everything in their power to curb climate change. Those that are simply aren’t making changes fast enough: if recent studies are any indication, we’re running out of time for our actions to make a difference.

The post Environmental Activists Are Suing Governments Over Climate Change — and Winning appeared first on Futurism.


Managing open-source mobile security and privacy for activists worldwide | Salted Hash Ep 18

Nathan Freitas, who heads The Guardian Project, talks with host Steve Ragan and senior writer J.M. Porup about the group’s easy-to-use secure apps, open-source software libraries, and customized mobile devices being used around the world.
Computerworld Mobile

Colorado Activists Aim to Ban Cellphone Sales to Children Under 13

A group of Colorado-based activists known as PAUS, or Parents Against Underage Smartphones, are looking to build steam under their proposed legislation that would curb the sale of smartphones to children younger than 13, according to a report published by the Coloradoan newspaper, which goes on to cite that officials have already drafted a ballot measure that could potentially see its way onto the 2018 ballot.

Backers of the move, which was spearheaded by native Colorado-based pediatrician, Dr. Tim Farnum, would at this point need to collect a minimum of 300,000 voter signatures in order for their legislation to appear on the state’s ballot in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

“Eventually kids are going to get phones and join the world, and I think we all know that,” Farnum said to the Coloradoan over the weekend. “But little children, there’s just no good that comes from that.”

The legislation would impose a statewide ban on the sale of smartphones to users under the age of 13 — and would also require cellphone retailers (such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or even Best Buy) to ask all customers about the age of the device’s primary user prior to sale. As if that wasn’t enough, account holders would then be required to submit monthly reports directly to the Colorado Department of Revenue, indicating they are still in adherence with the requirement.

Under the ostensibly utopian regulations set forth by the initiative, retailers who are caught selling smartphones to persons under the age of 13 would be issued “a warning” after their first offense, with subsequent offenses punishable by fines ranging anywhere from $ 500 to as much as $ 20,000 per violation, according to Denver-based FOX News affiliate, KDVR-TV.

Dr. Farnum explained that he was encouraged to make the push in light of witnessing his own kids struggle with the “psychological effects of always having a device in hand.” “They would get the phone and lock themselves in their room and change who they were,” he said.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released an updated slate of guidelines for children’s “media use,” which includes the use of smartphones, state legislators have expressed concern that Initiative 29 — as it’s now formally known — would embody a gross overreach of the government’s power. According to the AAP, it’s now recommended that a child’s exposure to screen time be limited to no more than one hour per day of “high-quality programming” until they’ve reached the age of six, at which point parents are encouraged to set “consistent time limits” that would ensure their child’s use of electronic devices doesn’t take time away from their sleep or physical activity.

Colorado’s Democratic State Senator, John Kefalas, explained that while he fully understands the reasoning behind the controversial measure, it would inherently “overstep the government’s role.” “Frankly, I think it should remain a family matter,” Kefalas said, while adding that “Ultimately, this comes down to parents making sure their kids are not putting themselves at risk.”

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Comcast is trying to silence net neutrality activists with bogus legal threats

Comcast has purportedly tasked its legal team to shut down an online initiative dedicated to raising awareness about a deluge of seemingly fake anti-net neutrality comments, posted on the website of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the last few weeks. In a troubling announcement on their blog, digital rights group Fight for the Future says it has received a cease and desist order from the Comcast legal division. The letter asks the non-profit organization to transfer the rights to its Comcastroturf.com website over to the telecommunications giant. Fight for the Future initially set up the Comcastroturf campaign a few weeks back following reports that…

This story continues at The Next Web
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