For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Julia Olson, 415-786-4825, julia@ourchildrenstrust.org Philip Gregory, 650-278-2957, pgregory@gregorylawgroup.com

To set up interviews with youth plaintiffs, contact: Meg Ward, 503-341-8590, meg@ourchildrenstrust.org

Youth Plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States Ask Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to Lift Stay of Trial

WASHINGTON - Today, attorneys for the 21 young plaintiffs in the landmark constitutional climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, filed an emergency motion with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The motion asks the Ninth Circuit to lift the stay imposed by its order of November 8, 2018 and allow the case to proceed to trial.

The youth plaintiffs’ motion emphasizes the urgency of the climate crisis and the high stakes for them and their futures if trial is not swiftly rescheduled:

“Safety, security, and America’s promise of liberty for our children are slipping away and will soon be out of reach. According to the world’s scientific community, we have only 12 years to transform our nation’s energy system away from fossil fuels to avoid irreversible catastrophic and existential harm to these children and generations who follow. We do not have 12 years, or even another month, to wait to begin this transition...Given that Defendants have consistently failed to demonstrate any cognizable harm, and neither the district court, this Court, nor the Supreme Court has found any harm to Defendants in proceeding to trial, the stay should be immediately lifted.”

Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel of Our Children’s Trust and co-counsel for youth plaintiffs said:

“We are in a race against accumulating CO2 and we are running out of time for a remedy. The government is not following the rules. These young people’s rights continue to be violated every day. As independent judges, bound by laws and evidence, they owe these youth that analysis. When the facts are reviewed and that analysis is done, it will be clear that the stay should be lifted.”

In a declaration that was filed with the motion from 18-year-old plaintiff, Aji Piper, Aji describes the impact the delay of trial has had on him:

“I make this declaration to inform this Court about how profoundly its decision to stop our trial is having in my life, and I know the lives of my co-plaintiffs. We didn’t even get a reason for that decision that explains why the government is being protected from having to go to trial, when I live every day with the emotional and psychological stress, bordering on despair, of ongoing climate danger and destruction that my government keeps making worse. There is no explanation from the courts about why our trial is stayed, but the government conduct that is causing people to lose their homes, their lives, their health and their safety and wellbeing can continue. I am being harmed. My government is knowingly causing it. My courts are not protecting me or even giving me the chance to tell my story at trial and to put on the testimony of our experts, and to prove our case. All we are asking is for the courts to let us have our trial and try to get a remedy that will slow the pressure cooker and give us a fighting chance to protect ourselves and children everywhere.”

Kiran Oommen, 22-year-old plaintiff from Eugene, OR said:

“Our lawsuit is time-sensitive. We’ve established the facts around human-caused climate change and we know that it is hurting us now and threatening our futures. Another two, three years of pre-trial appeals is more years of the government refusing to recognize our basic rights. Climate change is not waiting for us, why should we have to wait for the government?”

Philip Gregory, of Gregory Law Group and co-counsel for the Youth Plaintiffs, said:

“Defendants’ own climate assessments demonstrate that the lives, liberties, and property of American children, including Plaintiffs, are being harmed now. The fossil fuel emissions policies of the Trump administration are continuing to cause extreme weather events, like the massive hurricanes, and deadly wildfires. These harms are growing increasingly irreversible. It is critical that the stay be lifted so a court can order substantial emissions reductions to prevent future harm to our grandchildren.”

Juliana v. United States is not about the government’s failure to act on climate. Instead, these young plaintiffs between the ages of 11 and 22, assert that the U.S. government, through its affirmative actions in creating a national energy system that causes climate change, is depriving them of their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, and has failed to protect essential public trust resources. The case is one of many related legal actions brought by youth in several states and countries, all supported by Our Children’s Trust, and all seeking science-based action by governments to stabilize the climate system.

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Our Children's Trust is a nonprofit organization advocating for urgent emissions reductions on behalf of youth and future generations, who have the most to lose if emissions are not reduced. OCT is spearheading the international human rights and environmental TRUST Campaign to compel governments to safeguard the atmosphere as a "public trust" resource. We use law, film, and media to elevate their compelling voices. Our ultimate goal is for governments to adopt and implement enforceable science-based Climate Recovery Plans with annual emissions reductions to return to an atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration of 350 ppm.

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