Group photo

In a landmark lawsuit, a group of children, teens, and young adults is holding our nation’s leaders accountable for the climate crisis.

Tonatiuh: “It’s 21 young people filing this lawsuit because we have the most at stake when it comes to climate change.”

That’s Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh, a 16-year-old plaintiff.

Tonatiuh: “Each of us have a different story, a different voice, and different ways that our communities, our families, and our homes are being impacted by climate change. For us it’s about our future, the future of our planet, and the planet that we’re going to inherit, and then pass on to the future generations.”

The youth allege that by creating global warming pollution, the government has violated their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.

Tonatiuh: “We believe that our atmosphere is a very important resource that affects everyone, but doesn’t belong to anyone, that our government has a responsibility to protect that.”

The lawsuit is intended to force the federal government to reduce global warming pollution and accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

In November, a judge denied the government’s attempts to have the lawsuit dismissed, so it’s going to trial – maybe as soon as summer or early fall. The youth are looking forward to testifying in court.

Tonatiuh: “To leave something behind, to be a part of a movement … that’s something that’s incredibly exciting.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Courtesy of Our Children’s Trust.

Sara Peach is the editor-in-chief of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist,...