Protecting Earth's Climate for Future Generations

Federal Lawsuit

Please help us send the OUR CHILDREN'S TRUST Youth Climate Team to D.C. for oral argument on May 2, 2014 before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Please also share this flyer on the DC Hearing with groups and individuals interested in attending.

Five individual teenagers, and two non-profits Kids vs. Global Warming and WildEarth Guardians, which represent thousands more young people, filed the lawsuit to require the federal government to immediately plan for national climate recovery according to the prescription Dr. Hansen and other leading international climate scientists say will restore our atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 by the end of the century and avoid the disastrous scenarios of 2°C of warming. Their lawsuit relies upon the long-established legal principle of the Public Trust Doctrine, which requires our government to protect and maintain survival resources for future generations. At the oral argument, the youth will ask the Court of Appeals to recognize their constitutional right to a healthy atmosphere and safe climate system.

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO PREPARE OUR FINAL ARGUMENTS IN THIS GAME-CHANGING CASE AND TO SEND YOUTH TO WITNESS THE SHAPING OF THEIR FUTURES.

Legal Updates:

March 14, 2014

Oral argument is scheduled in the Youth's appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for May 2, 2014 at 9:30 am, before Chief Judge Garland, Circuit Judge Srinivasan, and Senior Circuit Judge Ginsburg.

January 22, 2014

Youth file their reply brief in their appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

December 23, 2013

Federal Defendants-Appellees file their response brief to Youth Appellants' opening brief and are supported by fossil fuel industry intervenors and the American Tort Reform Association.

November 12, 2013

7 AMICI CURIAE BRIEFS FILED -- YOUTH APPELLANTS GAIN BROAD-BASE SUPPORT IN ATMOSPHERIC TRUST CASE!

Washington, D.C. - Today, prominent groups and individuals across the nation showed their broad-base support of the young people suing the federal government for not acting to reverse climate change. National security and political leaders, religious groups, scientists, legal scholars, conservation and social justice organizations, and native communities came together to file seven amicus curiae ("friend of the court") briefs in support of the youth appellants' appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Read the press release!

SCIENTISTS FILE AMICUS BRIEF: Dr. James Hansen and ten other prominent scientists from around the world filed their amicus curiae brief supporting the young people. Read the compelling brief. Check out the Press Release.

LEGAL SCHOLARS FILE AMICUS BRIEF: 34 Legal Scholars filed their amicus curiae brief supporting the young people. Read the brief.

**UPDATE: On December 11, 2013, the Legal Scholars re-filed a shorter version of their amicus curiae brief with the court supporting the youth appellants.

Here's what Karl Coplan, Professor of Law at Pace Law School in New York had to say about the youths' case:

"This case, which seeks to establish constitutional protections for future generations in the same way that Brown v. Board of Education established equal protection for African Americans, may be the most important appeal the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals hears for a very long time to come. The sovereign Public Trust principles at issue in the case are part of the constitutional bedrock of our nation, recognized by our founders, and they support the conditions that our youth need in their future. We believe the Constitution was formulated to limit the power of one generation to undercut the endurance of the nation and deprive posterity of the conditions necessary for citizens to survive and prosper."

FAITH GROUPS FILE AMICUS BRIEF: Six faith groups that serve vulnerable communities across the United States, filed their amicus curiae brief supporting the young people. Read the brief and check out the press release.

NATIVE COMMUNITIES FILE AMICUS BRIEF: The National Congress of American Indians, along with many other supporters of Native communities in the United States filed their amicus curiae brief in support of the young people. Through their brief, the amici seek to ensure that in deciding the youths' case the court understands the unique impacts of climate change on Native Nations and how the law applicable to Indian Country varies from the law applicable elsewhere. Read the brief.

NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERTS FILE AMICUS BRIEF: National security experts filed their amicus curiae brief in support of the young people and state that “[c]omprehensive and coordinated action by Government Appellees to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is essential to mitigate the worst security consequences of climate change.” Read the brief.

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS FILE AMICUS BRIEF: Government officials from around the country filed their amicus curiae brief in support of the young people. Check out the brief.

SOCIAL JUSTICE, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND CONSERVATION ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS FILE AMICUS BRIEF: Several organizations and individuals came together to file their Global Climate Impacts amicus curiae brief to support the youth suing the federal government on climate change. Check out the brief and read the press release.

October 22, 2013

FIVE YOUNG PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON DC COURT TODAY TO FORCE GOVERNMENT TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Washington, D.C. -- Today, attorneys for five youth plaintiffs and two non-profit organizations filed their opening brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to force the federal government to implement a comprehensive Climate Recovery Plan. Read the opening brief and press release.

June 27, 2013

YOUTH APPEAL DECISION IN LANDMARK FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL LITIGATION CONCERNING CLIMATE CHANGE
Washington, D.C. – Today, youth plaintiffs took their lawsuit to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, demanding the appeals court issue a decision ordering the Obama Administration to immediately implement a comprehensive Climate Recovery Plan. The youth are appealing the district court’s dismissal of their “Atmospheric Trust” case, continuing their fight to protect their climate and their fundamental constitutional rights as young U.S. citizens.
The Obama Administration has failed to develop, let alone implement, a climate plan that will actually protect our generation," said Alec Loorz, founder of Kids vs Global Warming, in announcing the filing of the appeal. "The youth of America are forced to look to the courts to protect our constitutional right to clean air.

Read the FULL PRESS RELEASE

June 28, 2012

Youth plaintiffs filed a motion to reconsider a decision by the U.S. District
Court for the District of Columbia not to hear their claim that the federal government has a
constitutional responsibility to protect the atmosphere on behalf of present and future
generations.
Read the supporting brief and press release.

May 31, 2012

Today the District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision granting the government defendants' and fossil fuel intervenors' motions to dismiss the youth plaintiffs' case. Read the press release.

Statement from plaintiffs' attorney Julia Olson:

We are obviously disappointed. Let me first say we are so proud of the youth of our nation for standing up and pursuing the only remedy that allows them a future life and planet they have a right to inherit. Regarding the decision, we respectfully disagree with the court as to the scope and effect of the federal Public Trust Doctrine. However, we agree with Judge Wilkins that “this case is about the fundamental nature of our government and our constitutional system.” That system mandates protection of our fundamental right to a healthy atmosphere, on which humanity depends. We continue to believe we are legally correct and we will be continuing our efforts on behalf of our nation’s youth.

Statement from federal plaintiff Alec Loorz:

The court wants us to find or even "seize" common ground with the fossil fuel industry and government. But I believe that as long as these institutions value profits and power over the survival of my generation, there can be no common ground. The government may say that we need to do something about the climate crisis, but when they continue to do nothing, the courts have to step in to protect us. That didn’t happen today, but we will not give up. Our futures are at stake. We will continue fighting to protect our planet for our generation . . . and all who follow, for as long as it takes.

May 11, 2012

Media Advisory for May 11th ATL Hearing in D.C. on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

The hearing on the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss the case is set for May 11th in D.C. Come support the youth! And check out Alec Loorz, explaining the the significance of this hearing:

May 2012

Four law professors for industry filed an amicus curiae brief arguing there is no federal public trust, and if there is, its purpose is to allow pollution. Check out Plaintiffs' strong response here.

April 2012

The youth plaintiffs' attorneys filed an Opposition to the Intervenor's Motion to Dismiss the federal case, access it here.

December 7, 2011

The Federal Case has been transferred to D.C. because of its national significance and for the convenience of the federal government. The December 15 hearing is off calendar and will be rescheduled in D.C. We will keep you posted on new dates so check back soon!

ALSO! Top Law Professors around the country, including Professor Joseph Sax, file an amicus brief in support of youth and the Public Trust.

Legal teams in the OCT network file a response to the government defendants’ denial of their responsibility for addressing global warming--visit our Preliminary Injuction page.

September 28, 2011

OCT supports an unprecedented filing in federal court in San Francisco.

Youth plaintiffs seek immediate court intervention to compel government action on climate change in a lawsuit against six federal agencies. A motion for a preliminary injunction was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to require federal agencies to develop a comprehensive plan to prevent further increases in U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and to compel government action in reducing CO2 emissions by 6% per year by 2013. The legal filing is supported by 13 top experts from around the world on climate science, energy and U.S. policy. This is the first lawsuit to address climate crisis that focuses on the need for a national plan and the risks to future generations and our nation's security.

Read the Press Release

Coverage by the Daily Journal (San Francisco)

Read the Plaintiffs' Brief

Read Plaintiff Declarations

Read the Expert Declarations

Read James Hansen's Paper, "Scientific Case for Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change to Protect Young People and Nature"

Read James Hansen's Amicus Brief

July 27, 2011

Plaintiffs file an amended complaint.

July 2011

Case has been reassigned to Judge Chen of the Northern District of California, a recent appointment to the bench. The lawsuit is set to move forward, with expectation for action in September.

May 4, 2011

OCT supported legal teams as they filed a lawsuit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of the Interior, the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Commerce, the United States Department of Energy and the United States Department of Defense.