Oregon Court of Appeals Will Hear Teen Climate Case

Dec 7, 2016

A three judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals will hear arguments Friday in a lawsuit brought by two young people against the state over climate change. The case is related to a federal climate lawsuit that’s also underway.

Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik first appeared in Lane County Circuit court in Eugene more than 5 years ago. The lawsuit against the state claims the legislature and governor hold natural resources in public trust for future generations. But Judge Karsten Rasmussen, in his latest ruling, said the atmosphere, water and wildlife are not public trust resources. Twenty-year-old plaintiff Kelsey Juliana says she’s frustrated by the lack of action.

“The defendants, the state of Oregon, has recognized climate change as a direct threat to all people, and certainly younger generations," Juliana said, "they have not disputed the science, they haven’t disputed that it’s human caused and they haven’t disputed that action needs to be taken now. The one thing that they do dispute on is who’s going to take that bold action? And they argue, not us.”

Attorneys will ask the court to compel the state to put a scientific plan in place to reduce carbon emissions to 350 parts per million by the year 2100. The federal climate lawsuit brought by Juliana and 20 other youths is scheduled to go to trial next summer.

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