Can you sue the government to force it to take action on climate change? This question was put to federal magistrate judge Thomas Coffin in Eugene, Oregon in early 2015 in a lawsuit, Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana et al. v. United States of America et al. (“Kids Get Their Day in Court,” Sierra, Sept/Oct 2016 p. 42).
Just to set things up… On one side are the plaintiffs: 21 youths aged 8 to 19. The young people are represented by Our Children’s Trust, and an amicus brief has been filed in support of their position by The Global Catholic Climate Movement, an international network that includes Pope Francis. On the other side is the defendant: the United States government (and its traditional 😉 supporters, the American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers). The position taken by the plaintiffs is based on an ancient legal doctrine called the public trust doctrine which holds that “the government has a responsibility to steward for future generations shared resources such as ocean fisheries and navigable rivers.”
To learn more, and/or sign a petition in support of the plaintiffs, follow this link to Our Children’s Trust. The case is supposed to go to trial in early 2017.