Juliana v. United States, The Climate Trial of the Century
In 2015, a group of 21 youth filed a constitutional climate lawsuit against the United States Government called Juliana v. U.S. The case has yet to make it to trial. The trial has been systematically delayed in part due to efforts by the fossil fuel industry and the Obama administration. There have been multiple efforts to have the entire lawsuit dismissed. The Trump administration has also taken many great steps to dismiss the case as well.
The youth that came together have been part of an organization called Our Children’s Trust. Their mission statement sums up the movement and what these young people stand for:
Our Children’s Trust elevates the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of all present and future generations. Through our programs, youth participate in advocacy, public education and civic engagement to ensure the viability of all natural systems in accordance with science.
Our mission is to protect earth’s atmosphere and natural systems for present and future generations. We lead a game-changing legal campaign seeking systemic, science-based emissions reductions and climate recovery policy at all levels of government. We give young people, those with most at stake in the climate crisis, a voice to favorably impact their futures.
The #YouthvGov Trial is but one of the several cases Our Children’s Trust is taking on. There are legal actions that are at different levels of development across the country and globe. Earth Guardians is also another plaintiff on the Juliana v. U.S case. Earth Guardians youth director is Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. Martinez was only 15 when this case began and since then he has played an active role across the world in climate movements. With his help the Earth Guardians now has active groups in over 50 countries.
Why are people calling this the Trial of the Century? There are a number of reasons. The recent reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stating that we essentially have 12 years to bring our carbon emissions down by 45% and to zero by 2050 (while also drastically changing the way we operate in the world), before climate disasters create a largely inhospitable world for humans. The other major report comes from the World Wildlife Fund. It states there has been over a 60% loss of our mammal, fish, reptile, and bird biodiversity between 1970 and 2014 on the planet and that is linked to humanity’s impact on the world, which is also directly tied to fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. And on November 17th in London, the Extinction Rebellion movement, an international non-violent rebellion against the world’s governments for criminal inaction on the ecological crisis, shut down the five main bridges of central London in the name of saving the planet.
These are some of the reasons why this youth-led trial against the U.S. Government is so important right now. Across the globe, people of all walks of life are coming together to demand a shift from the ‘business-as-usual’ actions that have led us to this point. The time for action is now.