Taking Legal Action to Fight Government Inaction

Over the last few years, concerned citizens in several countries have undertaken a unique strategy by suing their governments for failing to take action to mitigate climate change. A recent case in Oregon includes 21 young litigants represented by a legal nonprofit. This suit, filed by Our Children's Trust, asserts that government inaction violates their civil rights. A similar case in Massachusetts is gaining traction. In the Netherlands last year, the Urgenda case set an inspirational precedent by forcing the government to enact stricter climate policies.

Here in Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation has rolled out the Blue Dot movement with the goal of amending the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to ensure that every citizen is entitled to a healthy environment and stable climate. Ecojustice, a Canadian environmental law group, also encourages strategic litigation to enshrine our right to a healthy environment within the Charter. One significant result of these cases is that it encourages a much-needed assessment of culpability and liability. Legal action may prove to be the game-changer we need.

By: Beverly deVries, M.A., creator of Humans of a Warming World

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