Teenagers Take the US Government to Trial Over Climate Change

Wouldn’t it be amazing if teenagers could derail Trump and the GOP’s fossil fuel agenda?

In a huge victory, 21 teenagers who filed a climate change lawsuit against the federal government will have their day in court.

They are suing the government for not taking effective action on climate change – which requires an end to the production and combustion of fossil fuels – claiming this violates their constitutional rights to life and liberty.  They want the court to order President Obama to immediately implement a national plan that lowers atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to 350 ppm by 2100.

Three fossil fuel trade associations joined the US government to fight the case. In April, a federal judge rebuffed their calls to dismiss the case and this month, another federal judge refused again to throw the case out.

That means, the teenagers and the federal government will go to trial over climate change. 

Climate scientist James Hansen and the Global Catholic Climate Movement, which includes Pope Francis, are also parties to the lawsuit.

“Youth stand together, and even as the seas are rising… so are we,” says 17-year-old, Victoria Barrett.

“My generation is rewriting history. We’re doing what so many people told us we were incapable of doing: holding our leaders accountable for their disastrous and dangerous actions. I and my co-plaintiffs are demanding justice for our generation and justice for all future generations. This is going to be the trial of our lifetimes,” says 16-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez.

In her decision in favor of the plaintiffs, Oregon District Court Judge Ann Aiken notes, “Federal courts too often have been cautious and overly deferential in the arena of environmental law and the world has suffered for it.”

“Now we must ask the court to require the government to reduce fossil fuel emissions at a rate consistent with the science,” says Dr. James Hansen.

Since the Obama administration is on its way out and can’t implement any strategy without facing reversal from a Republican majority, we hope this case can apply to the new government when it takes over.

Lawsuits filed in every state will also move forward, demanding state legislatures take science-based action on climate change. They have already won cases in Washington State and Massachusetts.

For similar cases across the world, read our article: Momentum Builds for Court Action on Climate Change.

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