21 Youth Plaintiffs Outside Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Project Report:
Our Children's Trust: Atmospheric Trust Campaign
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


We support a network of youth, scientists, economists and experts from multiple disciplines, to bring about macro governmental action at the federal, state, local 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.


Our Children’s Trust supports the 21 young people, and Dr. James Hansen as Guardian for future generations, who are advancing the ground-breaking constitutional climate recovery lawsuit against the U.S. government, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. Juliana v. United States & President Donald Trump, et al. Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein call this case “the most important lawsuit on the planet.”

Historic Constitutional Ruling in Youths’ Favor: On November 10, 2016, the U.S. District Court ruled against the federal government on their motions to dismiss the youths’ case. The court ruled, for the first time in history, that:

1. The U.S. Constitution secures the fundamental right to a climate system capable of sustaining life.

2. The public trust doctrine obligates the federal government to preserve essential natural resources necessary for future generations’ well being and survival.

3. The Court has the authority to order the federal government to prepare and implement a science-based national climate recovery plan that stabilizes the climate system and protects the vital resources on which citizens now and in the future will depend.

The Trump administration is now seeking to delay trial and overturn those historic constitutional rulings in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Multiple “friends of the court” have filed briefs with the Ninth Circuit in support of the youth and opposing the government, and two judges from the U.S. District Court have already denied the Trump administration’s requests for an interlocutory appeal. Following oral argument before the Ninth Circuit on December 11, the youth are optimistic the Ninth Circuit will soon rule in their favor and advance their case to trial. At trial, with nearly indisputable facts in their favor, there is a strong likelihood that the youth will secure the court order they seek to dramatically shift our nation’s climate policies for the benefit of all present and future generations.

March 7, 2018 Update: Today, Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Trump administration’s “drastic and extraordinary” petition for writ of mandamus in the landmark climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States , brought by 21 youth supported by Our Children’s Trust. The Court ruled that the Juliana case can proceed toward trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.


Our Children's Trust elevates the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate system.

We support youth climate advocates in legal actions against federal and state governments, advancing constitutional and public trust rights, and seeking implementation of science-based Climate Recovery Plans that will return atmospheric CO2 concentrations to below 350 parts per million before the year 2100. The court ordered science-based Climate Recovery Plans we seek, will involve systemic adjustments in federal and state public policy, to include the energy, transportation, building, agricultural and related sectors. These adjustments can include incentives for renewable energy and new technology markets, tax policy and pollution fees, and related market based approaches to comport federal policy with science-based reductions in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.


Juliana v. U.S. will demonstrate that for more than fifty years, the U.S. Government has known that CO2 pollution from burning fossil fuels causes global warming and dangerous climate conditions, and that continuing to burn fossil fuels further destabilizes the climate system on which all present and future generations depend. Despite this knowledge, the U.S. actively promoted fossil fuel production, consumption and pollution for years and failed to implement its own plans to reduce CO2 pollution. As a result, atmospheric CO2 increased dramatically, creating the grave climate destabilization and ocean acidification we face today. This federal lawsuit puts climate science squarely in front of the federal judiciary and asks the court to order the U.S. government to immediately develop and implement a national science-based climate recovery plan to stabilizes our climate system and return atmospheric CO2 concentrations to below 350 parts per million before the year 2100.

In addition, OCT supports related youth climate actions in the United States against state governments that are now pending in the state courts of Oregon, Alaska and Colorado, as well as in multiple state administrative agencies. Underlying these actions are rulings from several other state courts, in related cases also brought by youth with the support of OCT. In 2015, youth secured rulings in New Mexico and Washington, both establishing state constitutional public trust obligations to preserve essential natural resources, including the atmosphere and air. In 2016, Washington youth secured the first judicial ruling in our nation ever to specifically order a state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously in favor of our youth plaintiffs, ordering more aggressive state regulation to reduce carbon emissions there. This year, the Colorado Court of Appeals also ruled in favor of our youth, finding that the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission can no longer prioritize commercial interests of oil and gas development over public health and safety. The State of Colorado has appealed that case to the Colorado Supreme Court. We expect arguments to be scheduled in that case in early summer. A major parallel action will be filed soon in Florida, and additional state courts and administrative agency proceedings are in development, all seeking science-based climate recovery planning at the state level.

Information Dissemination

We disseminate information about our work, and the urgency of implementing a science-based national climate recovery plan, through intentional media and communications efforts. We have secured strong media attention for the youth plaintiffs and legal actions we support, increasing public awareness of the legal solutions to the climate crisis offered through our work. We earned well over 500 substantive media pieces in 2017, including coverage in: Wall Street Journal, Slate, Washington Post, Scientific American, Bill Moyers, U.S. News and World Report, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, and many more. Links to these and other written media pieces can be found at https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/written-media-coverage/, and video and radio coverage including our first appearance on CBS “network” news, and continuing coverage on CNN, Washington Post, Democracy Now! and others, can be found at https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/video-radio-interviews/

Project Link www.ourchildrenstrust.org

Amount Approved
$100,000.00 on 2/2/2017 (Check sent: 2/9/2017)

  Related Organizations
Our Children's Trust  

21 Youth Plaintiffs Outside Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Dr. Hansen and Youngest Youth Plaintiff Levi prepare for Court

P.O. Box 5181
1216 Lincoln Street
Eugene, OR 97401

(619) 316-6360


Elizabeth Dickinson
Chief Development Officer, Our Children's Trust

Posted 1/12/2017 10:25 AM
Updated   7/27/2018 3:26 PM

  • Nonprofit

Dr. Hansen and Youngest Youth Plaintiff Levi prepare for Court
Dr. Hansen and Youngest Youth Plaintiff Levi prepare for Court

© 2024 Alex C. Walker Foundation