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This Tuesday, a US Federal Court May Decide the Fate of the Climate

The lawsuit brought by 21 young people could potentially force the U.S. to act to contain the climate crisis.

Juliana v. United States, a lawsuit brought by 21 young people, could potentially force the U.S. to act to contain the climate crisis.

We need to talk about Juliana v. United States. Twenty-one young people are suing the federal government from causing climate change and every person in this country should know about it. It is the landmark case of the climate movement so far, and it has the potential to dramatically accelerate the U.S.’s role in containing the climate crisis. The case has a critical hearing coming up on June 4, and we need your support.

Over the last few months, the world has watched as young people in the United States and across the world have found their voice in a way no generation ever has before. We are in the midst of a climate emergency, and now young people, who will be more affected than any other generation, are refusing to sit by as our futures are destroyed around us. We are striking, we are rallying and we are voting in record numbers. And it’s because we understand the destruction is already underway: the planet is warming, sea levels are rising, and natural disasters are happening more intensely and more frequently than ever before.

Despite knowing all of this, we have hope. But we also understand clearly that the only way we’re going to see change is if we demand it. That is what is unfolding before everyone’s eyes in the streets and in the media right now.

We are building a national and global movement of young people who are standing up for our right to a future safe from climate catastrophe. And while the world is only just starting to hear about us, our growing movement has been building now for many years. True social movements, ones that make real and lasting change, happen when there is infrastructure in place to sustain them. This isn’t just about one day of striking, or one sit-in a politician’s office. This is a multilayered, decentralized and rapidly growing climate revolution.

When this chapter is added to U.S. history textbooks in 50 years, students will study the global strikes, sit-ins and rallies, and they will study the Juliana v. U.S. case. The legal battle began in 2015, when an Oregon nonprofit representing 21 young people from across the country filed suit in a federal court. The young plaintiffs are suing the federal government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by knowingly contributing to climate change for over five decades. The plaintiffs seek a court-ordered creation and implementation of a science-based climate recovery plan to put us on track to bring carbon dioxide levels back to 350 parts per million (ppm), or one degree Celsius of long-term warming. This would dramatically decrease the United States’s contribution to the climate crisis.

For four years, the government has been doing everything it can to prevent Juliana v. U.S. from going to trial — and has watched the District Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court reject their attempts to delay and dismiss the case. The upcoming June 4 hearing before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon, is a critical turning point in the case: in addition to deciding whether the case will finally go to trial, this hearing will decide whether or not to cease creation of approximately 100 new fossil fuel infrastructure projects currently awaiting federal permits in the U.S. while the appeal is being heard. That’s huge.

The organization I lead, Future Coalition, first got involved in supporting the case after the March 15 climate strikes. As a network of youth-led organizations and youth organizers across the country, we have been providing young people the tools, support, and resources they need to create the change they want to see in their communities and in this country. When we first heard about this case and the upcoming June 4 hearing, we knew this was a perfect opportunity to add Juliana into the greater narrative that is starting to form around the climate movement.

To do just this, and to engage more young people around the case, we — in partnership with the organization behind the case, Our Children’s Trust — launched the campaign #AllEyesOnJuliana. Today, on June 1, young people across the U.S. are holding local press conferences in their communities in locations that hold significance to their own climate fights. These press conferences will communicate broad, national youth solidarity with the 21 plaintiffs, and make clear that we, as a generation, are going to continue to fight until change is made.

Then on June 4, the day of the hearing, people across the country can visit for a livestream to follow the case’s developments as they unfold.

This day, this hearing, is one to pay attention to. We are watching history in the making, and you will want to be part of it.

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