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Our Children's Trust
Based in Eugene, Oregon, Our Children’s Trust is a nonprofit organization and global climate recovery campaign that prioritizes youths’ rights. The organization has helped kids sue the government for infringing upon their rights to a clean and safe climate. The legal basis for these lawsuits is that the government is not doing enough to protect the rights of young people, who will suffer substantially in the future due to fossil fuel emissions and other contributors to global climate change.
An attorney, Julia Olson, established Our Children’s Trust as a vehicle to pursue legal cases on behalf of children against the government under the public trust doctrine. With the aid of Mary Christina Wood of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the University of Oregon, Olson holds governmental bodies responsible for climate change-related matters and aims to affect positive change in the environment. Our Children’s Trust has taken extensive grassroots, state, federal, and global actions, and it accepts donations to help youth defend themselves against the government’s neglected constitutional duty to provide a safe climate system.
Our Children's Trust leads a global campaign to elevate the voice of youth in the media and to support youth climate advocates in coordinated legal actions against federal and state governments, that will require government to implement science-based federal and state policy to return atmospheric CO2 concentrations to levels below 350 parts per million before the year 2100. Scientists have demonstrated that doing so will stabilize our climate system and de-acidify our ocean.
The mission of the Trust is to “protect earth’s atmosphere and natural systems for present and future generations.” It does this in several ways, including through public education, advocacy participation, programs, and civil engagement. Legally-binding and science-based climate recovery policies are what guide Our Children’s Trust to make the voices of youth heard throughout the nation and the world.
Juliana v. U.S. is a constitutional climate lawsuit filed in 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. The lawsuit alleges that the affirmative actions of the U.S. government have caused climate change and therefore, violated the rights of our youngest generation. The government has pursued numerous delay tactics to prolong the lawsuit’s conclusion, while the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals continues to consider the claims. Our Children’s Trust has also launched lawsuits and executive branch rule-making actions in numerous states, including Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington. Meanwhile, the organization is working in other parts of the world to support youth and advance legal actions with regard to government causes of climate change. Current efforts extend to Australia, Belgium, Canada, Columbia, France, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, Uganda, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. On the local level, Our Children’s Trust pursues grassroots legal actions to encourage youth to participate in local government decision-making processes through its YouCAN (Youth Climate Action Now) program. YouCAN chapters exist in the Oregon communities of Eugene, Bend, Corvallis, and Ashland, and the nonprofit provides resources to start your own YouCAN chapter in your community.