Young people across the country are suing several government agencies for failing to develop a climate change recovery plan, conduct that amounts to a violation of their constitutional rights, says their lawyer Julia Olson.
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 also founded environmental nonprofit Earth Matters and organized successful actions in his hometown of Boulder, Colo.
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.