Sunday, April 20, 2014

Young People’s Day in Court - by James Hansen

The Hansen grandchildren. (Credit: Click to enlarge.
May 2 could be an historic day, as young people have their day in court, at 9:30 am in the United States Court of Appeals in Washington, DC1.  This concerns the legal case that young people have filed against the United States federal government, the case for which the paper Assessing ‘Dangerous Climate Change’:  Required Reductions of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature” provides the scientific basis. 

A U.S. District Court earlier ruled against young people, in essence saying that the young people had not shown a Constitutional basis by which the Court could require the U.S. government to deliver a plan defining how it would reduce emissions consistent with what science shows is necessary to stabilize climate.  Young people had filed their case based on the “trust” concept, the argument that the present generation has a fiducial responsibility to deliver a safe atmosphere and climate to the next generation.  The “trust” concept is well established in law and American history, as Thomas Jefferson, a farmer, argued that his generation must not deplete the soil, but rather must leave it in equally fertile condition for the next generation.  However, our current Administration argued against the young people, saying that it had established the Environmental Protection Agency, and thus had sufficiently carried out its duties.  Industrial polluters joined the federal government in court, arguing against the case filed by the young people. 
In an amicus brief that I filed with 10 of my colleagues, we point out that the claim by the United States government that climate change presents “the possibility of some remote future injury” evinces a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the climate threat. Our brief makes clear that atmospheric CO2 today is already in the dangerous zone, and the government should present a plan to reduce fossil fuel emissions and increase carbon uptake by the land and biosphere at rates required to reduce atmospheric CO2 this century to at most 350 ppm.

Young People’s Day in Court - by James Hansen

No comments:

Post a Comment