Project Report:
Atmospheric Trust Campaign
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


We provide strategic legal services to youth from diverse backgrounds to protect the Earth’s climate system for present and future generations by representing these young people in global legal efforts to secure the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate. We support youth in the third branch of government in a strategic legal campaign that includes targeted media, education, and public engagement work to support the legal actions. Our legal work – guided by constitutional, public trust, human rights laws and the laws of nature – aims to secure systemic and science-based climate recovery planning and remedies at federal, state, and global levels, including science-based Climate Recovery Plans and policies that will reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations to below 350 parts per million before the year 2100: in accordance with the scientific prescription for climate stabilization.


Thanks in tremendous part to the support of the Alex C. Walker Foundations, Our Children’s Trust has continued our strong progress to secure the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate. We assess our progress based on the successful advancement of the youth-led legal actions we support, as well as on the nature of media coverage about, and public and student engagement with, our science based climate mitigation legal efforts. The Alex C. Walker Foundation’s support has helped us to make great progress during 2019 on all of these fronts.

As we prepare for the significant court decisions described below, and begin distribution of a national curriculum centered on Juliana v. U.S., we are pleased to offer this brief update on all of our efforts to enforce governments’ constitutional and public trust obligations to achieve our ultimate goal of reducing concentrations of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere from over 410 parts per million (ppm), to safe levels under 350 ppm, by the year 2100: the scientific prescription for climate mitigation.

Juliana v. U.S.: The Landmark Climate Lawsuit Brought in the U.S. Federal Courts
by 21 Young Americans against the U.S. Government:

As you know, Our Children’s Trust supports the 21 young climate advocates in Juliana v. United States: the ground-breaking constitutional climate recovery lawsuit seeking a transformative, systemic, science-based, National Climate Plan that will achieve the above referenced scientific prescription for climate stabilization.

Historic Constitutional Climate Rulings in Youths’ Favor: You also know that the U.S. District Court has already ruled resoundingly in favor of the Juliana youth plaintiffs, ruling for the first time in history, that the U.S. Constitution secures the fundamental right to a climate system capable of sustaining life; and that the youths’ case should proceed to trial on the question whether the U.S. government violated that and other fundamental and constitutional rights.

Youth Win at Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court also: However, since those historic District Court rulings, and others in favor of the youth plaintiffs in Juliana v U.S., the federal government defendants have tried unsuccessfully, multiple times, to have the Juliana case ended before trial by filing government writs of mandamus. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled in favor of the youth on four such separate government attempts, and the U.S. Supreme Court has also twice ruled in favor of the youth, both times also advancing the case to trial despite the government’s requests otherwise.

On the heels of those multiple wins for the youth, the U.S. Court of Appeals is now considering a government interlocutory appeal of the substantive legal rulings issued by the U.S. District Court in the youths’ favor. We are now awaiting a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, on what we expect will be the last effort by the government to undo these historic District Court rulings in Juliana. The interlocutory appeal was argued before the Ninth Circuit on June 4, 2019. We are optimistic that the three-judge panel who heard the interlocutory appeal at the Ninth Circuit will render their decision in favor of the youth, as they have multiple times in the past, finally sending the case to trial where that favorable “law of the case” will then apply. The decision could be rendered any day by the U.S. Court of Appeals, though it could also remain outstanding for some time.

If we are successful at the Ninth Circuit as we have been in the past, we do anticipate a third premature request by the government for the U.S. Supreme to intervene and stop the case before trial. This will require our careful and diligent response, but we are optimistic the U.S. Supreme Court will fairly quickly reject that third request, as they have the two prior requests. Thereafter, we are optimistic the case will move expeditiously to trial in mid-2020, where we are more confident than ever in the law and the evidence, in light of current federal government policy aggressively exacerbating the climate crisis. advancing scientific data relative to the climate crisis, and evolving case law.

To date, and with the support of the Alex C. Walker Foundation, we have consistently defeated the government’s strenuous efforts to prevent Juliana v. U.S., from coming to trial on the facts in open court. If tabulating the “score” of substantive legal decisions in this case, that score is at least 11 - 0 in favor of the youth. And zero in favor the government defendants. With powerful historic, scientific and factual evidence of the constitutional and public trust violations the youth will establish at trial, we await this forthcoming ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals with optimism.

Legal Actions Brought by Youth Against Individual States and Other Nations:

Simultaneously, Our Children’s Trust continues our support of youth and counsel in related legal actions in multiple states and other nations. By advancing these related legal actions against multiple governments at several national and state levels, each seeking parallel court mandated science-based government action to mitigate the climate crisis, we are building necessary the climate and human rights jurisprudence that will lead to coordinated science-based climate policies around the globe, in time to bring atmospheric CO2 concentrations to safe levels below 350 ppm by the year 2100.

Our state cases have just been argued before the Alaska Supreme Court on October 8, and before the Oregon Supreme Court on Nov. 13. On November 8, we filed a comprehensive climate mitigation rulemaking petition on behalf of youth before the Colorado Oil & Gas Commission, building on the legislative changes spurred by our recent case before the Colorado Supreme Court. We will soon be arguing our youth climate cases in the Washington Court of Appeals, and in the trial courts in Florida and North Carolina, for parallel relief in those jurisdictions as well. We expect also to file a new action in Montana this fall, and have several other state cases in development as well.

Related youth-led climate legal actions are also advancing with our support in the global domestic national courts of India, Pakistan, and Uganda. With our Canadian partners, we just filed a critical new action in Canada, La Rose v. Her Majesty the Queen, on October 25, 2019, paralleling the strategy and relief sought in Juliana. With our Mexican partners, we expect to file a related action in Mexico in the near future. Thus, the bulwark of youth-led, science-based climate mitigation actions is growing and advancing dramatically thanks to your support of our efforts.

Informing Public Discourse on the Constitutional Solution to the Climate Crisis:

We have also expanded our coordinated media, public education and engagement efforts, to inform the public about these constitutional climate rights, the scientific prescription for climate recovery, and the legal solutions to the climate emergency. This year, we have earned literally hundreds of media reports, including mainstream media coverage such as “60 Minutes” and “People” magazine, among many others. Click here to view additional media coverage. We also recently completed the first full season of our podcast, “No Ordinary Lawsuit,” illuminating the science of the climate crisis, the youth behind Juliana v. U.S., and the legal underpinnings of the case.

We will soon begin nationwide distribution of a 5-lesson high school curriculum we developed this year, building on the work we did with the Alex C. Walker Foundation supported, that resulted in the graphic information pamphlet, Pathway to Climate Recovery. Our curriculum spins off from that pamphlet, and is designed to inform high school students about the climate crisis, constitutional protections, and the Juliana case. We expect this curriculum to expand youth awareness of the significance of the case at the very time it advances in the courts. Additionally, the release of a full-length documentary about Juliana v. U.S. is also expected to be released in 2020, likely right around the time we expect the case to come to trial in the U.S. District Court. Our far reaching, intentional multi-channel media effort is critical to demonstrating to decision-makers the significance of the strategic public and student support for the relief sought in all of our cases.

To further crystalize the public support, we also collaborate with national, regional and local groups and influencers of all stripes relative to the relief sought in our cases. As an example of our success in this regard, more than 30,000 young people, numerous multi-denominational faith groups, Members of Congress, businesses, law professors, public health officials, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, League of Women Voters, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and many, many more filed “friend of the court” briefs in support of the Juliana and state plaintiffs in 2019.

Additionally, we partner with coalitions of youth and other groups to turn out supporters for public demonstrations of solidarity with our youth plaintiffs around the globe, including on June 4, when supporters turned out in droves for a public demonstration of solidarity with the Juliana plaintiffs, and again when thousands turned out for the launch of our Canada case on October 25, 2019 in Vancouver. We continue other partnerships with multiple groups and individuals to bring attention to the necessity of the constitutional parameters we seek mandating science-based government climate action. These partnerships have led to youth plaintiff speaking engagements before the U.S. Congress, surrounding the Global Climate Strikes, with Greta Thunberg at our press conferences at the U.S. Supreme Court and in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, and in multiple other venues elevating the voice of youth for a science-based solution to the climate crisis.

We are extremely grateful to the Alex C. Walker Foundation for your support of all of these recent efforts and our work over the years. We are making demonstrable progress toward our ultimate goals, and the year ahead will be a critical one in multiple respects. Thank you for your support.


We support a network of youth, scientists, economists and experts from multiple disciplines, to bring about macro governmental action at the federal, state, and global domestic levels that drives systemic market incentives and public policy to place our society on a scientific prescription for atmospheric health, climate stability and ocean de-acidification.


The scope of our work is global. We support youth, legal counsel, experts and partners in multiple states in the U.S., and in several other nations, in related legal actions, all geared toward achieving systemic market incentives and public policies necessary to mitigate the climate crisis.

Information Dissemination

We disseminate information about our work through our media and education efforts generally, and through speaking engagements for our team and for the youth plaintiffs. We will report our continued progress on the Foundation's website, updating our report to include new legal actions, judicial decisions, and significant developments in our work. Additionally, we will provide our primary Foundation contacts with more regular updates through email and telephone communications.

Project Link

Amount Approved
$100,000.00 on 6/7/2019 (Check sent: 6/14/2019)

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OCT.PathwayToClimateRecovery1.pdf (PDF)
Plaintiff Levi at Rally after June 4 Hearing.jpg
Our Children's Trust
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P.O. Box 5181
1216 Lincoln Street
Eugene, OR 97401

(619) 316-6360


Lou Helmuth
Deputy Director, Our Children's Trust

Posted 4/1/2019 6:19 PM
Updated   12/13/2019 9:24 PM

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Plaintiff Levi at Rally after June 4 Hearing.jpg
Levi Draheim, 12, one of 21 youth plaintiffs in Juliana v. U.S., on the shoulders of supporters following oral argument at the U.S. Court of Appeals on June 4, 2019

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