Last Friday, thousands of young adults and kids walked out of schools and colleagues across the UK, inspired by young Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg.
For many it was the first time they had been on a demonstration, but they are now part of a growing wave of international action by young people demanding immediate and radical action on climate change from our political and business leaders.
Many of us who have been writing on climate for decades can only take inspiration and pure admiration from Greta and this new generation of young cliamte activists, whose blunt messages is that the older generations has failed to live up to the climate challenge.
Greta is making waves. Today’s New York Times reports Greta saying: “It’s sometimes annoying when people say, ‘Oh you children, you young people are the hope. You will save the world’” before adding “I think it would be helpful if you could help us just a little bit.”
But we should also draw inspiration from other young adults who are challenging their elders over climate too. In 2015, 21 young people sued the US Government to demand action on climate change in a case called Juliana v. U.S.
The legal complaint asserted that, through the “government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it had violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.”
Both the US Government and fossil fuel industry have not surprisingly tried to have the case kicked out. They have obfuscated and yet again denied the science and evidence. However, the latest judgement in the legal saga is that on January 7, 2019 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the plaintiffs request to expedite their appeal.
This is good news, but the stakes are hoigh. I have blogged about the legal action before on this site, including calling it “the most important lawsuit on the planet right now”.
Kelsey Juliana, a plaintiff from Eugene, and who the legal action is often named after, said two years ago, after the plaintiffs had secured another legal victory in their fight against the Government. “Youth voices are uniting around the world to demand that Government uphold our constitutional rights and protect the planet for our and future generations’ survivability.”
Juliana added: “This will be the trial of the century that will determine if we have a right to a livable future, or if corporate power will continue to deny our rights for the sake of their own wealth”.
Now, Juliana needs your help.
Zero Hour, a youth-led climate justice organization, has launched a nationwide drive to get thousands of young people to add their names to the Juliana Plaintiffs. The brief they are asking people to sign up to, includes:
- “The Government is required by our Constitution to protect the rights of young people and children, including their fundamental rights to life and liberty;
- The Government is also required by law to protect and preserve the Public Trust, which includes the atmosphere, land and waters we rely on for life;
- By permitting and authorizing the emission of greenhouse gasses that it knows to be the cause of climate change, the government is violating its duty and our Constitutional rights;
- Only a trial can establish these facts and end the Government’s ongoing violation of our rights.”