On the international level, a climate change treaty is moving at a snail’s pace. Here in the United States, legislation to reduce American green house gas emissions seems to have been permanently stalled. Yet, the climate crisis keeps getting worse.
With little prospect for any sort of climate change legislation on the horizon, one group of Americans that are particularly affected by climate change are taking their cause to the courts.
Earlier this week, the non-profit Our Children’s Trust filed a lawsuit in Federal court. The legal theory they are working off of is something they are calling Atmospheric Trust Litigation. It is derivative of a common law principal called the Public Trust Doctrine, which postulates that the government has the responsibility to protect natural resources in the commons. The plaintiffs are taking this theory to the atmosphere by arguing that the government is failing sufficiently protect future generations from the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
I’ll leave it up to the legal eagles to weigh in on the legal merits of this course of action. But it is worth noting that none of this would be necessary if our political leaders lived up to their moral responsibilities to pass some common-sense climate change legislation.
In the meantime, the young person at the heart of this lawsuit, 16 year old climate activist is organizing a series of protests on Sunday to support climate action. Check it out.