Youth Climate Litigation: Juliana vs. United States

June 2, 2021 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Webinar Only

An ELI Public Webinar

Around the world, the rights of youth in the context of climate change are increasingly raising complex legal questions. In 2015, 21 children filed a lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, against the U.S. government for violating their constitutional right to life, liberty, and property through “affirmative actions” that enabled climate change. They are represented by Our Children’s Trust, a public interest law firm that has brought suits against both state and federal governments on behalf of youth in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington state. Using public trust doctrine and constitutional law, they argue the U.S. government is responsible for its role in destabilizing the climate for present and future generations. Since its filing in 2015, Juliana v. United States has faced numerous obstacles and attempts for dismissal. In 2016, the U.S. District Court of Oregon rejected requests for dismissal from the U.S. government and fossil fuel industries stating that “a climate system capable of supporting human life” is a fundamental right. Today, the plaintiffs await a ruling from the district court on their request to amend their complaint.

Vital questions remain: Can the U.S. government’s energy policies be directly linked to the alleged harm? Have the rights of the plaintiffs been infringed, and if so, is it even possible for the U.S. government to repair the harm? Join ELI for this fascinating webinar, featuring leading voices from around the country on the potential outcome for the case; the ramifications, benefits, and challenges that could emerge from this ruling; and its position on the national stage.

Upasana Khatri
, Senior Attorney, Center for International Environmental Law, Moderator
Lisa Heinzerling, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Julia Olson, Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel, Our Children’s Trust
Jeffrey H. Wood, Partner, Baker Botts LLP

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