A Surge of Climate Lawsuits Targets Human Rights, Damage from Fossil Fuels

In the U.S., a group of children and young adults who are suing the federal government were poised to go to trial in October in a similar case. The plaintiffs are trying to establish a Constitutional right to a stable climate and are seeking a court order that the government come up with a plan to phase out fossil fuels. Simply holding a trial would be a major victory for the children, but the Supreme Court put the trial on hold less than two weeks before the scheduled opening arguments. The case is now in the hands of appeals court judges with the Ninth Circuit, who will decide whether to allow a trial.

"This is the blockbuster for the U.S.," said Melissa Scanlan, director of the New Economy Law Center at Vermont Law School. "It's the first case in the U.S. that would recognize that there's a protected Constitutional right to a climate capable of supporting human life. We never thought we needed that before."