A group of 21 kids have just won a monumental battle in their efforts to hold the government to account for climate abuse.
Last Friday, an Oregon judge ruled in favour of the lawsuit and denied pleas from fossil fuel companies to drop the case, citing that the case is ‘unprecedented’ but that it has merit and should proceed.
The unconventional group of Plaintiffs are from Our Children’s Trust, an organisation that claims the government has done far too little to stem the climate crisis. They believe the government has violated the constitutional rights of the next generation and should be held accountable for allowing the pollution that has caused climate change.
With the support of environmentalists and former NASA climate scientist James Hansen, the group has taken to the courts, filing petitions on behalf of young people in the U.S. to show that the government has not done enough to protect them from the harms of global warming.
The Court’s ruling is a major victory for the Plaintiffs, aged 8-19, in what environmentalists are calling the ‘most important lawsuit on the planet right now’.
This is the second American court case they’ve filed (the first failed), and they’re also working internationally, CNN reports.
The lawsuit calls for President Obama to implement a national plan to decrease atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide to a safe level by 2100.
While the U.S. has cut its carbon emission levels during the past few years, the cuts have not been significant enough to bring global warming under control. And the current regulations that the President has in place is actually stuck in legal limbo, making it impossible to accomplish the White House’s goal of cutting emissions to 26 to 28 percent below previous levels by 2020.
The case by Our Children’s Trust takes a different approach than previous climate change suits in the U.S., and if it succeeds, it could open the door for similar cases both in America and internationally.
Kelsey Juliana, the 19-year-old lead Plaintiff, explained in a statement:
This will be the trial of the century that will determine if we have a right to a liveable future, or if corporate power will continue to deny our rights for the sake of their own wealth.
And kids as young as 8 are weighing into the issue that most adults have a hard time understanding.
Levi Draheim, the youngest member of Our Children’s Trust, said:
I work hard to protect the environment and animals near my home.
I want my government to work hard to protect my future and the future of the animals and ecosystems in our country.
In the meantime, three fossil fuel trade associations have been granted defendant status for the trial, saying that the case is unfair and a ‘direct, substantial threat to [their] businesses’.
Let’s hope these kids win.