Youths Suing US Gov’t on Climate Change to Get Day in Court

Our Children's Trust
Young climate activists, between the ages of eight and nineteen, are fighting in court to force the US government to take action against climate change. Photo credit: Our Children's Trust

A three-judge panel in California unanimously ruled that the lawsuit of 21 young people, who want to force the government to take action on climate change, can proceed.

“The question of the last few years has not been ‘do we have a case?’ but rather, ‘how far will the federal government go to prevent justice?’” said 21-year-old plaintiff Kiran Oommen. “We have seen that they are willing to go to many lengths to cover up their crimes and maintain the status quo, but not even the Trump administration can go far enough to escape the inevitable tide of social progress. The Ninth Circuit’s decision affirms that we are on the side of justice, and for justice, we are moving forward. We’ll see you in court.”

Filed by Our Children’s Trust, representing 21 plaintiffs between the age of eight and nineteen (at the time it was initially filed), the lawsuit charges the government with violating their constitutional right to life, liberty and property. The lawsuit aims to force the government into action on climate change.

“At trial, the youth plaintiffs will seek systemic, science-based climate recovery action by our federal government. This lawsuit will counter the dangerous policies of our climate change-denying president before it’s too late,” the group stated.

While originally filed against the Obama administration in 2015, the case has taken on a bigger significance since the election of President Donald Trump, an ardent denier of man-made climate change. Trump has filled his administration with like-minded people, including Scott Pruitt — the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — who is also named in the lawsuit.

The Obama administration was, in part, able to escape litigation by claiming it was cooperating with other nations to deal with climate change. Since Trump withdrew the US from the internationally recognized Paris Agreement, this option is no longer possible. Instead, he filed a petition for writ of mandamus — a move deemed “drastic and extraordinary” by the court — in an attempt to get the case dismissed.

Judge Ann Aiken green-lighted this case in November 2016, stating that previous legal inaction was a factor: “Federal courts too often have been cautious and overly deferential in the arena of environmental law, and the world has suffered for it,” Aiken said. She originally set the trial date for February 2018, but the writ of mandamus caused its delay.

With the appeal out of the way, the plaintiffs are hoping to proceed quickly.

“The Ninth Circuit clearly recognized the importance of a complete record at trial particularly as to the climate science,” said Philip L. Gregory, co-lead counsel for the youth plaintiffs. “We will promptly ask the District Court for a trial date in 2018 so that the urgency of the climate crisis can be addressed through appropriate remedies.”

Related Story: Cities, States and Kids Sue to Stop Climate Change

Related Story: Youth Activists Want Tillerson Deposed on Suppression of Climate Change Facts


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from youth at court (Our Children’s Trust).

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5 responses to “Youths Suing US Gov’t on Climate Change to Get Day in Court”

  1. BRF says:

    Should be an interesting case but how does one prove their argument with the use of a science and its findings that can neither be proved or disproved? For every argument in favor of the theory of climatic warming due to human influences there is a counter argument with equal weight against such hypotheses. I take the word of former anthropic catastrophic global warming guru and developer of Gaia theory James Lovelock as a tell of what is happening in the climate debate. Lovelock has said that we should have seen marked empirical evidences of climate warming by now and took the very brave step of saying the modeling and predictions have proven wrong and that the practitioners of climate science are getting it all wrong and need to reevaluate how they are conducting their science. It seems science is prone to human influences also, doing a great disservice to humanity if it allows such circumstances to persist.

  2. Kevin Beck says:

    This is a fraud being perpetrated upon the people of the world.

    There is scant proof of so-called “climate change.” Does this mean that only warming is called climate change, but cooling is not? If so, then we are headed for decades of cooling, based upon the most reliable indicator of future temperatures: The sunspot cycle.

    When the cycle gains momentum in the next decade, there will be nothing man-made that will be able to keep the earth as warm as these neophytes believe it is getting.

  3. Mel says:

    Will science have anything to do with this “day in court” or will it just be emotional millennial drivel? I know that asking for the empirical evidence for the extent to which mankind is driving climate change marks me down as a “denier” – a term designed to shut down debate through its association with the holocaust. No one denies climate change. It’s been happening since the Earth was created. “Stop climate change”? You mean stop the whole of nature and evolution? Never more manifest is the end of the enlightenment than in this feelings-driven babble.

  4. Bruce Lulla says:

    The Deep State is simply using the naive simple-minded to accomplish their task of putting further pressure on the democratically elected current President in lieu of the fact that their horse (girl) lost the race.

    The number one cause behind the human-induced climate catastrophe is as advertised – the human being, thus the sheer number of human beings which now numbers 8.8 billion and not the asserted 7.5 billion. We are adding 100 million human beings to this number each year or 1 billion every decade. When I was born, there were 2.8 billion human beings on the planet. This number has tripled in my 61 years.

    There needs to be a birth-stop in accordance with intellect and rationality for not only the preservation of the planet but for the human species itself. The effects from such an overbreeding overpopulation are manifold in addition to the climate catastrophe.

    • BRF says:

      Where did you get your data? The data that I have seen recently shows a gradual leveling off of the human population growth rate when taken on a planetary wide basis. In some areas populations are actually declining while in others where rapid growth was seen the rate of growth is declining. Still in some areas of rapid growth the rate remains unchanged but nowhere has the rate of growth increased. This was based on the agreed level of 2.3 live births per adult female to sustain a stable population.

      I read a study on population studies several years back in which the authors were trying to determine the carrying capacity of this planet for a human population. They cautiously stated a figure of between seven and ten billion. So interestingly in a sense your figures state we are at maximum human population levels now.