On this upcoming Sunday and Monday, October 28-29, there will be rallies all over the Southeast to support the twenty-one youth plaintiffs suing the federal government in order to create a national climate action plan in a case called Juliana v. U.S. Rallies will take place in Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and many other states around the country. Find your local rally here.
Juliana v. U.S. is a historic lawsuit, filed in 2015 by twenty-one youth plaintiffs, aged 8 to 19 years old, which alleges that the federal government has taken actions that exacerbate global warming, and such actions violate the Constitutional rights of Americans, especially those of youth and future generations. The case has surmounted numerous legal challenges and attempts to get the case dismissed by the fossil fuel industry, the Obama administration, and the Trump administration, and each time, the courts have ruled that the case should proceed.
The trial was scheduled to begin on Monday, October 29, but a last-minute emergency request by the Trump administration to delay the trial was granted by the Supreme Court of the U.S., meaning the trial may or may not proceed as scheduled on Monday. Nonetheless, communities all over the country are gathering to declare that the kids should be heard and that our nation needs a national climate action plan.
To get into more specifics about the case, the plaintiffs allege that the U.S. government has known about the problem of global warming for more than 50 years, yet has consistently through that time taken affirmative actions that exacerbate the problem, such as permitting coal-fired power plants or leasing of federal land for coal and oil extraction. The plaintiffs make the claim that these affirmative actions violate the Constitutional rights of life, liberty, and property (for example global warming has significant public health impacts and flooding from extreme weather and sea level rise threaten to damage real and other property), equal protection under the law (young generations and future generations bear the disproportionate impacts of climate change) and also violate the public trust doctrine, which holds that it is the government’s responsibility to hold in public trust from one generation to the next the most essential natural resources.
The remedy sought by the plaintiffs is not monetary, but rather that the U.S. government must enact a science-based national climate recovery plan, which would fulfill the American responsibility toward limiting atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million by 2100, and limit global warming to 1 degree Celsius. To do so, the plaintiffs estimate that the U.S. would have to reduce greenhouse gas emission by an average of 9.9% annually starting in 2018 and sequester 100 gigatons of carbon through reforestation, soil conservation, and perennial crop agriculture. Some policies outlined by the plaintiffs that might help on this path include putting a price on carbon and stopping subsidies to fossil fuels.
If you agree that it is time for the kids to be heard in court and that our nation needs to enact a national climate action plan, please consider attending your local rally. In the Southeast, rallies will be held in:
- Birmingham, Alabama (Monday, Oct. 29)
- Miami, Florida (Monday, Oct. 29)
- Tampa, Florida (Monday, Oct. 29)
- Raleigh, North Carolina (Sunday, Oct. 28)
- Charleston, South Carolina (Monday, Oct. 29)
- Nashville, Tennessee (Sunday, Oct. 28)
Hope to see you there!