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Youths sue U.S. government over climate inaction PDF Print E-mail
Earth News
Posted by Joan Russow
Sunday, 11 May 2014 15:38
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/4/youth-sue-governmentforclimateinaction.html

May 4, 2014 2:16PM ET Updated May 5, 2014 2:14PM ET

 

 

An unprecedented massive legal campaign led by young Americans is playing out in courtrooms across the nation

Their futures are at stake, say the young plaintiffs.

“Climate change is the biggest issue of our time,” said 13-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, a member of nonprofit Kids vs. Global Warming, a plaintiff in the suit.

“It’s not every day you see young people getting involved politically, but the climate crisis is changing all that. Every generation from here on out is going to be affected by climate change,” added Roske-Martinez, who founded environmental nonprofit Earth Guardians and organized successful actions in his hometown of Boulder, Colorado.

The federal suit, which has made its way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is part of a groundbreaking nationwide legal campaign spearheaded by youth and backed by some of the world’s leading climate scientists and legal scholars.

The case, filed by five teenagers and two nonprofits — WildEarth Guardians and Kids vs. Global Warming — representing thousands more youth, relies on the public trust doctrine, which requires government to protect resources essential to the survival of all generations.

“With the United States as the largest historic emitter of carbon dioxide, the atmospheric resource cannot be restored without government action,” Olson told Al Jazeera.

Supported by more than 30 environmental and constitutional professors, the young plaintiffs name six federal agencies in their suit — the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Defense departments.

“The welfare of youth is directly affected by the failure of government to confront human-made climate change, and unless the government acts immediately to rapidly reduce carbon emissions ... youth will face irrevocable harm: the collapse of natural resource systems and a largely uninhabitable nation,” reads the complaint.

In addition to the federal suit, actions were filed in all 50 states, with help from Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit that supports young people through legal efforts.

The scale of the campaign is unprecedented, according to law professor Mary Wood, faculty director at the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the University of Oregon.

“Never before in the history of our laws have we seen a coordinated set of legal actions on this scale,” she said.

The monumental campaign matches the magnitude of the problem, supporters say

 

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