Children Take Obama To Court Over Planet’s Future.
Billed as the biggest environmental court case in history, 21 children are instigating litigation against the Barack Obama administration for insufficient action on climate change.
Julia Olson is an experienced environmental litigator and a mother of two. It was in the heat wave of 2006 in Oregon that a pregnant Olson took refuge from the heat in a movie theatre showing ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’ That viewing spurred her efforts as an environmental litigator in new directions. She was fighting for the unborn child she carried and for all the future generations to come.
Her aim today is to convince US District Judge Ann Aiken to create a national plan curbing greenhouse gas emissions to levels that scientists believe are safe. She plans to claim that children are being discriminated against in regards to climate change. They have no power or ability to effect policy change, yet it is their lives that climate change will most effect.
“They’re not causing this problem, and yet they will be disproportionately subjected to its dire consequences.”
The challenge will not be easy however as opposition to climate change is prominent throughout the US. Sean Duffy, an attorney from the US Department of Justice is quoted as saying:
“There is simply no constitutional right to a pollution-free environment.”
It is not only the Department of Justice that is opposed to this case. Unsurprisingly the fossil fuel industry is opposing the action. Quin Sorenson, a fossil fuel industry attorney said that:
“There is no violation of a statute. There is no regulatory relief that has been denied. It is simply that government has failed to do what these plaintiffs think they should do,”
However the Magistrate Judge Coffin at the district court recommended that the case move to trial in April saying in summary:
“In this case, the government has allegedly taken action through subsidies, regulations, etc. that creates massive C02 emissions, and has failed to limit such emissions despite a duty to do so. Plaintiffs further allege they are prevented any means of escape from the resulting climate that threatens their property, health, and even existence.”
There has never been a trial like this one.
Julia Olson will be making the case of the century for the future of all children, not just the 21 involved directly in the case. Olson has set up a charitable organisation ‘Our Children’s Trust’ which has attempted to bring environmental cases before the courts before. Many of these attempts have been met with failure, in part due to the complicated legislation around what our responsibility to future generations and the validity of climate change are brought into question. Yet here are 21 kids, some of whom had to convince their parents to let them sue The President and his government, kids passionate about climate change and the effect that it may have upon them and their future.
This case is about having children speak in places they are not normally allowed. This case may determine what kind of world they get to live in and the effect they can have on policy makers and industry that decides their future without approval.