Young American activists agitated

| June 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

Young Americans are collaborating in increasing numbers to force government action on climate change.

Founder of non-profit organisation Kids vs. Global Warming, Alec Loorz, was just 17 years of age in 2011 when he challenged federal authorities to “govern as if our future matters”.

Lawsuits can drag out over many years, but Loorz’s passion only grows over time, he told Outside Magazine: “Scientists said we have 10 years to make changes if we want to stabilise the climate by 2100 – and that was back in 2005… We care more about money and power than we do about future generations. The judicial system is the only branch of government not bought out by corporate interests.”

Loorz is supported by non-profits WildEarth Guardians and Our Children’s Trust. Together, they spearheaded the iMatter legal campaign based on the public trust doctrine. Their argument is that the atmosphere is part of the public trust, and that the government has an ethical responsibility to protect it for present and future generations.

Persistence and mini-documentaries released every month to monitor the campaign have resulted in youth-led litigation in every state of the nation.

The campaign originally sought to compel government to adopt a climate recovery plan by capping carbon emissions by 2012 and then reducing them by 6% a year starting in 2013, to put the US on a trajectory to reach 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 2100. “This is the minimum that… climate scientists say we need to get to a stable climate,” says Loorz.

Things are not happening fast enough for his liking. Kids vs. Global Warming filed a Writ of Certiorari in the US Supreme Court on 3 October 2014, to confirm the federal government’s public trust obligation to protect natural resources for the benefit of future generations. Despite the fact that in December last year the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case, Loorz and his compatriots aren’t discouraged. “We’ll advance our climate claims in lower federal courts until the federal government is ordered to take immediate action on human-made climate change.”

Kelsey Juliana, one of the young plaintiffs in Oregon, says of the battle in her state, “As a youth, and therefore someone on the front lines of climate change chaos, I have everything to gain from taking action and everything to lose from not.”

Category: Winter 2015

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