Do you have a right to a clean environment?
That is the claim twenty-one youths from across the U.S. are arguing in court since filing a lawsuit against the federal government back in August over their constitutional right to a clean environment. They allege that the government knowingly contributed to the dangerous level of carbon dioxide emissions in the country and that their fundamental rights to life, liberty and property have therefore been violated.
The young plaintiffs are asking for a court order requiring the federal government to implement a climate recovery program reducing emissions to a safe level (of 350 ppm) by the year 2100.
One of the plaintiffs suing the government is 16-year-old Victoria Barrett. She is a great example of a youth activist using the power of her voice to make a difference and ultimately, change the direction of our climate crisis. “I didn’t know I had the power and the ability to sue the federal government. This lawsuit is about showing that youths are the ones that are going to be making the change,” Barrett stated.
According to environmental law professor Michael Gerrard, this lawsuit may be an uphill battle, but a win would establish a federal constitutional right to a clean environment and set a precedent throughout the U.S.
You can find out more about the lawsuit, the youth activists and the organization behind it at Our Children’s Trust.
Photo by Sharon Pruitt