A group of young people is currently suing the federal government, firmly believing the government’s efforts to combat climate change are not enough. They claim their own futures are at stake and want to ensure that government officials take notice.
The youth range in age from 10 to 21. They come from 10 different states and represent several varying cultures.
According to Our Children’s Trust, a non-profit organization providing legal assistance to the youth suing the government, the mission of this lawsuit is to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere.
Our Children’s Trust and Earth Guardians, a youth-empowered environmental activism group, are spearheading the young plaintiffs’ lawsuit. Our Children’s Trust has provided attorneys, spokespeople, media coverage, financial donations and expert climate change scientists.
Group leaders from Earth Guardians are some of the plaintiffs representing the lawsuit.
One of those leaders is Victoria Barrett, a 17-year-old from White Plains, New York. She states that she refuses to allow corporate greed and denial of climate science to get in the way of an opportunity-filled life.
That refrain is echoed from the other youth plaintiffs.
Nathan Baring, 15 years old, claims that since his generation is not yet afforded voting rights, they are not fairly represented when it comes to decision making that will affect the rest of their lives.
In 2015, Juliana v. U.S. was filed in the U.S. District Court of Oregon. The lawsuit claimed that government actions directly assist climate change, that it has repeatedly violated constitutional rights to life, liberty and property and that it has failed to protect essential public resources.
The U.S. government, alongside representatives from the fossil fuel industry, promptly attempted to dismiss the lawsuit. In April 2016 and in June 2017, those attempts were denied by U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken.
“Exercising my reasoned judgment, I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society,” Aiken wrote.
Originally set to go to trial Feb 5, attorneys for the Trump administration delayed the lawsuit. A new trial date was initially set for Nov 29 but a stay was issued. The stay temporarily halts all proceedings from moving forward in the case.
Judge Aiken says she is prepared to set a new trial date once the stay is lifted.
Listeners can hear the behind-the-scenes of the trial at Our Children’s Trust podcast, “No Ordinary Lawsuit.”
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