Americas

Youngsters win right to take US govt to court on climate

The group, aged between 11 and 22, are accusing the US government of creating a national energy system that causes climate change and deprives them of their rights.

Their trial was to be held in Oregon starting 29 October.

But the Trump administration moved to stop the case and it was put on hold while judges decided how to proceed.

The Supreme Court said late on Friday that the bid to block the trial had been rejected, but that the government may still be able to argue the case further at the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Philip Gregory, co-counsel for the youth plaintiffs in Juliana v United States, said: “We are extremely pleased that the courthouse doors are re-opened.

“Plaintiffs are ready to start trial right away.”

Our Children’s Trust, which is supporting the group, said: “This lawsuit is not about government’s failure to act on climate change but its affirmative actions which have caused climate change.”

The case was initially launched in 2015 against then president Barack Obama and he, too, tried unsuccessfully to get it thrown out.

Among the plaintiffs is Jayden Foytlin, 15, of Rayne, Louisiana, whose home is uninhabitable due to a 1,000-year flood and eight 500-year floods in less than two years.

The youngest, Levi Draheim, 11, lives in a home 13 feet above the rising sea in Florida’s Satellite Beach where residents have seen an increasing number of storms and other environmental issues such as red algal blooms.

Jamie Lynn Butler, 17, is a member of the Navajo nation and had to leave her home on the reservation after the nearby springs dried up. She also said the lack of water and other climate impacts have harmed her people’s ability to participate in their traditional ceremonies.

The age of the plaintiffs is important to their argument, as they will be dealing with the impacts of climate change during their lifetimes – Levi will not have reached middle age by the time some of the biggest problems are expected, according to a United Nations panel of experts.

They want the court to order the government to “prepare and implement an enforceable national remedial plan to phase out fossil fuel emissions and draw down excess atmospheric CO2”.

But the Trump administration has argued that the lawsuit is an attempt to “redirect federal environmental and energy policies through the courts rather than through the political process, by asserting a new and unsupported fundamental due process right to certain climate conditions”.

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