Securing the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate
for all present and future generations

Legal Action

We support youth in bringing legal action in courts, administrative agencies and local legislative bodies to enforce the Public Trust duty of government to protect natural resources, including the atmosphere, for the benefit of all present and future generations.

These Atmospheric Trust legal actions, coordinated and supported by OUR CHILDREN'S TRUST, are grounded in the Public Trust Doctrine, which states that it is the duty of the government to protect the natural resources that are essential for our collective survival and prosperity. These resources-rivers, groundwater, the seashore-and in this case, the atmosphere-cannot be privatized or substantially impaired because they belong to everyone equally, even to those not yet born.

The government has a legal obligation to preserve these trust resources and to manage them for the benefit of everyone, not just for the benefit of the wealthy and politically-connected corporations. The government cannot allow the privatization of the atmosphere. The Public Trust Doctrine is well-established in American law and in many other legal traditions throughout the world. The doctrine stretches all the way back to Roman times, long before anyone understood how important and fragile the atmosphere truly is. Fifteen hundred years ago the Emperor Justininan wrote, "The things which are naturally everybody's are: the air, flowing water, the sea, and the seashore." The legal actions apply this deep-rooted doctrine to our modern understanding of the atmosphere, demanding that the government recognize and protect our collective right to a stable, livable climate.

Climatologist James Hansen provides his work in support of our campaign. Mr. Hansen's recent published work on the climate crisis is accessible here.

To see legal pleadings/briefs/orders or to see what's happening in your state or country, click on the map to the right or choose one of the following links:

SUMMARY OF LEGAL EFFORTS:

Federal Lawsuit Legal Updates

States with Active Lawsuits

Complete Alphabetical List of State Legal Actions

International Lawsuits

Local Climate Actions

To get involved with the legal effort, contact us.