By Renee Lewis / Source Fusion.net
EUGENE, Ore.—‘The most important lawsuit on the planet right now’ was born in a small, unassuming office on a tree-lined street in the liberal Oregon city of Eugene.
The office is home to Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit founded in 2010 to bring coordinated legal actions on behalf of young people to hold governments accountable for reducing emissions to levels scientists say we need to protect our climate.
Last year, the group filed a landmark lawsuit on behalf of 21 young people against the federal government over its inaction on climate change. In September, a federal judge heard arguments on the case and is expected to issue a ruling on whether or not the case will move forward by November. (The government could keep fighting the case all the way to the Supreme Court, or since it’s a civil case they could settle out of court—not for money—but both parties agreeing to what the 21 youth are after, a comprehensive national plan to quickly reduce emissions.)
The U.S. government has known for at least 50 years that carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels would cause climate change and endanger future generations, argue the plaintiffs. Despite that, the government has not only failed to take action to reduce emissions but has continued policies of allowing fossil fuel exploitation.
In doing so, the federal government has violated their generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, and failed to protect public trust resources including the atmosphere.
According to the plaintiffs, there is no political will to do what is needed to slow the effects of climate change before it’s too late—so the courts must step in to force action.