During last week's Fridays for Future school strike, 15 Canadian kids ranging in age from 10-19 stood on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery to announce that they filed suit against the Canadian government for injuries they allege stem from the climate crisis, according the Vancouver Sun.
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Andrea Rodgers, second from the right, takes notes during a hearing in the Juliana v. U.S. case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon on June 4. Colleague Elizabeth Brown sits to her left, while colleague Julia Olson sits on her right, with co-council Philip Gregory on Julia's right. Robin Loznak / Our Children's Trust
By Fran Korten
On June 4, Andrea Rodgers was in the front row of attorneys sitting before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court. The court session, held in Portland, Oregon, was to determine whether the climate change lawsuit (Juliana v. United States) brought by 21 young plaintiffs should be dismissed, as requested by the U.S. government, or go on to trial.
Left to right, attorney Andrea Rodgers, Juliana youth plaintiff Aji Piper, lead counsel Julia Olson and Juliana youth plaintiff Hazel Van Ummersen, walk to a court hearing in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon on June 4.
Robin Loznak / Our Children's Trust<p>Rodgers: The court doesn't look to what's going on outside the courtroom in order to render a legal decision. But the courts are also made up of judges who are human and aware of the world around them. They understand when there is societal change going on. You see that with the gay marriage decision. I don't think that decision would have happened without the "Love Is Love" and other campaigns. Same thing with Brown v. Board of Education and the bus boycotts. So the movements outside of the courtroom are critical. We have three branches of government, and they all know what the other is doing. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that the courts are influenced directly. It's really much more indirect, long term and bigger picture.</p><p><span></span>Korten: If you do go to trial, you will bring testimony from many experts. But much of that information is already in the news, in academic papers and reviewed in governmental panels. Is there any special value to having it aired in court?</p><p>Rodgers: Absolutely. Because in court, it's sworn testimony under oath. Scientific testimony has to go through a very rigorous process to be admissible in a court of law. Junk science is thrown out or considered unreliable. There are scientific standards for what's admissible in a court of law. The person delivering testimony has to be considered an expert in the fields in which they're testifying. There's no fake news in the court because that's considered perjury. And then the witness is cross-examined. So it gives the other side an opportunity to poke holes in their testimony and to bring in other conflicting information.</p><p>We have 23 expert witnesses. People like James Hansen, Joseph Stiglitz, Frank Ackerman, Harold Wanless, Steve Running, Hugh Goldberg, Pete Erickson and [James Gustave] Speth, all of whom are the top experts in their fields. It'll be the trial of the century.</p><p>Korten: What is the best outcome you could imagine from this suit?</p><p>Rodgers: A court order recognizing that these youth have constitutional rights and that the government is violating those constitutional rights. And then a court order directing the defendants—the government agencies—to come up with a plan to bring the energy system into constitutional compliance.</p><p>While the courts can order the government to make a plan, they don't write policies. That's why things like the Green New Deal and other climate change policies are so critical. We have to have the policies ready because our government is not going to be quick to develop a remedial plan.</p><p>Korten: What can ordinary citizens do to support this case?</p>
Attorney Andrea Rodgers being interviewed at a press conference on the steps of the Miami Dade County Courthouse in 2018. Rodgers was representing Florida youth in a climate change lawsuit against the state of Florida.
Robin Loznak / Our Children's Trust<p>Rodgers: On the Our Children's Trust website, there are toolkits so that supporters can get engaged and support the youth plaintiffs. You can teach young people about the suit and their constitutional rights in school. There are ways to utilize the litigation to galvanize members of the community in support of science-based climate action. There are people getting congressional and other elected leaders to recognize that there's a fundamental right to a stable climate system.</p><p>Korten: You recently spoke at the Bainbridge Island Climate and Energy Forum in Washington state. How do you see the value of local actions such as that one?</p><p>Rodgers: Local action is the primary way that people in the community are learning about climate change. This kind of local forum can keep people aware of policy efforts and making phone calls on legislation or learning about election issues. The other thing a local forum does is to bind us together as a community. Climate change is a very difficult issue. It's easy to throw up your hands and give up. When you're working on this issue within a community, that's so much more powerful. It keeps you going <a href="https://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/5-ways-communities-are-coping-with-climate-anxiety-20180822" target="_blank">when you feel frustrated or disheartened</a>. You have that community to lean on.</p><p>Korten: You are a mother. How do you <a href="https://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/talking-to-kids-climate-change-advice-20190307" target="_blank">help your children understand</a>what you're fighting for without scaring them?</p>
Colorado's oil and gas industry breathed a sigh of relief on Monday after the state's highest court overturned a lower court decision that said state regulators must consider public health and the environment in permitting oil and gas production.
The unanimous ruling was a disappointment for the teenage plaintiffs, including high-profile climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, who led the closely watched lawsuit against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).
It was a good weekend for justice in America, which isn't something we get to say very often these days. That's because Friday afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court kicked it off with a hopeful decision: The Trump administration can't stop the historic youth climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States from going to trial.
The U.S. Supreme Court put a landmark climate case on pause Friday while it considers a last-ditch attempt by the Trump administration to stop it from proceeding to trial, Climate Liability News reported.
Once again, the Trump administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a groundbreaking constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs, just over a week before the case heads to trial in Eugene, Oregon.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice filed a second "writ of mandamus" petition— an uncommonly used legal maneuver—and application for stay with the high court.
A federal judge on Monday rejected the Trump administration's last-ditch efforts to derail a landmark constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs, preserving the trial start date of Oct. 29 in Eugene, Oregon.
In a glimmer of hope for climate change litigation, the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration's attempt to block a ground-breaking lawsuit brought by 21 young people against the U.S. government for crafting policies that support climate-changing fossil fuels, The Huffington Post reported.
Alaska has voted for a Republican for president in every U.S. election since 1964, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Given the growing partisan divide on climate change, one would not expect the state to take action on climate change, let alone acknowledge that it is a problem.