The civil rights action group known as the Earth Guardians, or “Climate Kids,” have received a response from the United States Government after filing a suit claiming the country has failed to address climate change even though they fully understand its severity. In response to the Climate Kids, the Obama administration admitted to several of their claims.
In 2015, twenty-one plaintiffs ages 9-20 put forth a lawsuit to address the government’s lack of action in the climate crisis. The defendants included President Obama, the fossil fuel industry, and various federal agencies, including the EPA.
The claim, led by Our Children’s Trust, states that, “The defendants have known for more than fifty years that the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels was destabilizing the climate system in a way that would significantly endanger plaintiffs, with the damage persisting for millennia.”
The government filed a motion to dismiss the case in April 2016. The judge however, sided with the Climate Kids and denied the dismissal, later citing climate safety as a constitutional right. This allowed their case, Juliana v. United States¸ to see trial.
In the Obama administration’s response, they admit to several of the suit’s claims. The administration acknowledged that the creation of CO2 emissions is an issue of national security both financially and environmental. They continued to note that the United States was responsible for more than 25 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions from 1850-2012. The government also acknowledged that there is scientific evidence supporting the fact that an increase in CO2 has had a negative impact on aquatic animals and other wildlife.
In addition to these allegations addressed by the Climate Kids, the government also owned up to the fact that sea levels have risen 3.4 millimeters per year since 1993. It was previously thought to have only been 3.2 millimeters.
Another conference to discuss the case is scheduled for February 7th. Now up for question is whether or not the government has violated constitutional rights by ignoring climate change.
Though the initial case was filed against the Obama administration, the court will automatically rename president elect Trump as the defendant. Attorneys representing the Climate Kids have expressed their concern about this transition.
Chief legal counsel Julia Olsen states that, “because President Obama implemented many climate change policies through executive action, Trump will have the power to water down President Obama’s climate change regulations and ignore the United States’ commitments under last year’s Paris climate agreement. Such steps will be disastrous for our country.”
We look forward to watching Our Children’s Trust and the Climate Kids take on this unprecedented venture to preserve a bright climate future for our youth.