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Leagues Step Up on Climate Action

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This blog post was written by Cathy Frischmann and Claudia Keith from LWV of Oregon and LWV of Corvallis.

Since 2015, the U.S. federal executive branch has used extraordinary legal challenges in attempts to silence the climate case filed by 21 youth plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States. The plaintiffs in the case are represented by Our Children’s Trust and based in Eugene, Oregon.

The plaintiffs assert that the U.S. government, through its affirmative actions in creating a national energy system that causes climate change, has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources. The plaintiffs are seeking a current, science-based national climate recovery plan to stabilize the climate, including clean energy solutions without monetary compensation to them.  

In 2016, LWVUS and LWVOR, in joint standing, submitted to the U.S. District Court an amicus brief in the Juliana case, making LWVUS the first national organization to do so. The amicus brief uniquely recognized that judicial involvement is necessary to safeguard the fundamental rights of underrepresented individuals when the other branches have failed them. In late 2017, in her Juliana v. United States ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Aiken introduced ‘The Right to a Stable Climate’ as a Constitutional Question. 

In the coming months, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether the 21 plaintiffs will go to trial. While the plaintiffs wait for a decision from the court, Our Children’s Trust is rolling out the #Congress4Juliana Campaign. The campaign asks supporters to call on their Congressional representatives to publicly endorse the Juliana claims against the government and the constitutional right to a stable climate system. 

Additionally, five state Leagues have amicus briefs standing in youthvgov state lawsuits, for which more info can be found at  LWVUS Toolkit For Climate Action.  

Climate Change Advocacy  

Recognizing the need for urgent climate action, in the last three months, seven state Leagues adopted Climate Emergency Resolutions or decisions: Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Florida, Colorado, Alaska, and Illinois. These decisions have the goal of advocating for government (local and state) policies to stabilize the climate by returning atmospheric CO2 levels to below 350 ppm by 2100. Late in 2018, the UN IPCC 1.5C recommendation reflected reducing global net human-caused greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and net-zero by 2050.  

At the June LWVMA convention, noted environmentalist Bill McKibben issued a call to take action now to slow the damage and prevent more impact from fossil fuel pollution and to join young people around the world in Global Climate Strike events. McKibben described the League as having a special role to play because of its stature as a trusted voice.

Currently, LWVOR and LWVMA have voted to support the September 20 - 27 Global Climate Strike: ‘This September, millions of us will walk out of our workplaces and homes to join young climate strikers on the streets and demand an end to the age of fossil fuels. Our house is on fire—let’s act like it. We demand climate justice for everyone’.

Check out and involve your League in your community’s strike activities. Our Children’s Trust is currently one of many Global Climate Strike North American partners

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