The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Julia Olson, Executive Director & Chief Legal Counsel, Our Children’s Trust,
Andrea Rodgers,
Cass DiPaola, Communications Manager, Fossil Free Media,
For interviews with youth plaintiffs, contact John Mackin,

People vs. Fossil Fuels, 255+ orgs, and 50,000+ Individuals Deliver Petition to U.S. Department of Justice: End Opposition to Youth Climate Case

Today, the People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition digitally delivered an online petition to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Attorney General Merrick Garland, demanding that Attorney General Garland end the DOJ's opposition to the children’s climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, proceeding to trial. John Beard, Founder and CEO of the Port Arthur Community Action Network and member of the People vs. Fossil Fuels Steering Committee, and youth leader Zanagee Artis, Founder and Executive Director of Zero Hour, co-delivered this petition on behalf of the coalition, more than 255 organizational sponsors, and more than 50,000 individuals across the United States and around the world who signed the petition.

The petition was delivered shortly after Federal Judge Ann Aiken, of the U.S. District Court in Oregon, on June 1, 2023, granted the young plaintiffs’ motion to amend their complaint, putting their case back on track to trial. After eight years, evidence that indisputably proves the federal government’s knowing perpetuation of the climate crisis will come to light, in open court, and Judge Aiken will rule whether the U.S. energy system violates the youth’s constitutional rights.

People vs. Fossil Fuels, a coalition of over 1,200 climate justice, Indigenous, Black, Latino, social justice, economic justice, progressive, youth, faith, and other organizations, spearheaded this petition effort in support of the Juliana youth plaintiffs and their landmark constitutional climate case. This petition is led by climate, public health, children’s, legal, labor, minority, business, faith, human rights, and environmental justice organizations - including Amnesty International USA, Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, GreenFaith, Greenpeace USA, Hip Hop Caucus, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sunrise Movement, and The petition was launched last June with over 160 tweets in just a few hours from individual supporters and key organizations, including the Indigenous Environmental Network and Center for International Environmental Law, that rallied via a tweetstorm standing in solidarity with the youth plaintiffs and urging individuals to sign the petition.

The petition notes that “For seven years, these 21 young people, from across the United States and including 11 Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth, have waited for their day in court, delayed again and again by tactics employed by the Department of Justice to impede or dismiss their case. And for almost seven years, young people like these 21 young Americans have suffered from increasingly severe climate harms.”

“Judge Aiken’s ruling has affirmed what we’ve long known: that these children are bringing constitutional claims that deserve to be heard and the evidence of how their own government has knowingly caused and worsened the climate crisis, harming these young people and violating their rights, should be considered by a judge in open court,” stated Julia Olson, Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel of Our Children’s Trust. “However, for several long years, these 21 youth plaintiffs have experienced delay tactics from the Department of Justice under three different presidential administrations. This is a moment for the DOJ under President Biden to change course and end its opposition to this case proceeding to trial. These children deserve their day in court.”

Olson concluded, “Today, we are grateful for the support of people around the world who have signed this petition to urge Attorney General Garland to end the DOJ’s opposition to this case proceeding to trial. As these thousands of people across the United States and around the globe have demanded, their voices loud and clear: Let the Youth Be Heard!”

“Today, I am proud to deliver a petition to the U.S. Department of Justice in support of the 21 young plaintiffs in Juliana v. U.S. On June 1st, Judge Aiken issued a long-awaited ruling that finally puts their case back on track to trial! Frontline Gulf Coastal communities of color in my own part of the country, and young people across the nation, especially youth living within environmental justice communities, continue to suffer the impacts from the climate crisis, including pollution, and social and environmental injustice. Today, we send a message to the Biden DOJ - These young Americans have the right to be heard by their nation’s courts. Justice deferred, regardless of age, is justice DENIED. End the DOJ’s campaign to deny these youth access to justice,” stated John Beard, Founder and CEO of Port Arthur Community Action Network, on behalf of the People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition.

“While our government continues to take actions that worsen and accelerate climate change, the youngest generations of Americans continue to endure record-breaking climate disasters at an increasing rate. Young people fear when the next devastating flood, wildfire, drought, heatwave, or other climate disaster will be. It’s long past time for the Department of Justice to end its opposition to the Juliana plaintiffs and youth climate justice. Young Americans have the right to be heard by our nation's courts, the branch of our government that has a duty to protect our constitutional right to a livable planet,” said Zanagee Artis, Founder and Executive Director of Zero Hour.

With the ruling released, the People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition, in coordination with Our Children’s Trust, has launched a new action urging Attorney General Merrick Garland and the DOJ to not use an extreme legal tool - a petition for writ of mandamus - to try to further delay justice. The coalition and supporters from across the world continue to join the Juliana 21 in solidarity by also calling and tweeting the DOJ.

Represented by attorneys at the nonprofit public interest law firm, Our Children’s Trust, Juliana v. United States was originally filed in 2015. The Juliana plaintiffs argue in their complaint that their federal government has directly contributed to the climate crisis more than any other government on the planet -- including creating a fossil fuel energy system that causes and worsens climate change -- and thus is harming the youth plaintiffs, violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failing to protect essential public trust resources and the children’s rights of equal protection of the law. The youth plaintiffs are now between the ages of 15 and 26.

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.