Judge Rules to Allow Youth Lawsuit Over Climate Change to Go to Trial

Shaunacy Ferro
Torsten Blackwood - Pool/Getty Images
Torsten Blackwood - Pool/Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood - Pool/Getty Images

In 2015, a group of 21 young people filed a lawsuit against the federal government arguing that by failing to act on climate change, the government was infringing on the next generation’s Fifth Amendment right to life, liberty, and property. Now, a judge has ruled that their lawsuit can proceed to trial, denying the motions to dismiss by fossil fuel industry representatives [PDF].

In her opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken (Oregon District, Eugene Division) wrote, “Federal courts too often have been cautious and overly deferential in the arena of environmental law, and the world has suffered for it” [PDF].

James Hansen, a leading climate scientist who is also acting as a plaintiff in the case, elaborates in a press statement that “we must ask the Court to require the government to reduce fossil fuel emissions at a rate consistent with the science.”

The lawsuit, brought by kids between the ages of 9 and 20, comes at an especially significant time, considering President-elect Donald Trump’s false claim that climate change is a “Chinese hoax” (it is not) and his avowed plans to cancel last year’s international climate agreement and appoint a climate-change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency.