The suit was filed in 2015 by a group of young people who said the government violated their right to “a climate system capable of sustaining human life.”
by Pete Williams and Anne Thompson / Oct. 18, 2018 / 3:01 PM EDT
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to put a stop to a massive environmental lawsuit, just over a week before it is scheduled to go to trial.
The suit was filed in 2015 by a group of young people, ranging in age from 10 to 21, who said the federal government has failed to stop climate change by promoting the use of fossil fuels for more than 50 years. They claim that policy violated their constitutional right to “a climate system capable of sustaining human life.”
Young people sue federal government over inaction on climate change
They seek sharp reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and a national plan for restoring the earth’s energy balance. Despite repeated efforts by the federal government — under both the Obama and Trump administrations — to get the lawsuit tossed out, lower courts have allowed it to go forward. It is now set for 50 days of what the plaintiffs call the trial of the century, beginning Oct. 29 in Oregon.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco said that by allowing the case to proceed to trial, the judge overseeing the case wrongly found in favor of the young people’s claim that they have a right to certain climate conditions.
“Their alleged injuries stem from the cumulative effects of CO2 emissions from every source in the world over decades,” Francisco said. “Whatever additions to the global atmosphere that would somehow be attributed to the government” would be minimal.