Youth v Gov is a documentary about the climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States. The landmark lawsuit was brought forward by 21 young people in 2015. The case takes its name from Kelsey Juliana, who was the lead plaintiff in the case.
What was the plaintiffs’ claim in Juliana v. United States?
According to Our Children’s Trust, the claim says that, “Through the government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.”
Youth v Gov Summary
This stirring documentary follows the attempt of 21 young people to bring the United States’ fossil fuel addiction to heal. The 21 plaintiffs come from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures. All are united in their goal to fight for a liveable future, which is at stake due to the governments continued push for fossil fuels.
It’s therefore no surprise that the plaintiffs encountered stern opposition from the fossil fuel companies who sought to get the case dismissed before it could go to trial. However, the case was heard and it made for quite startling viewing. At one point, when the plaintiffs were on the stand, they were being questioned about climate science – in a manner that only a scientist working on those specific topics would be able to address. This seemed to serve no obvious purpose and one wonders why the government’s lawyers chose this line of questioning.
The movie also accurately captured the hypocrisy of the Obama government. At times Obama was talking tough on climate, but as history shows us, his actions didn’t live up to the rhetoric. Obama was also shown boasting about fossil fuel expansion. He said that his government opened up millions of acres for oil and gas exploration. Obama also said that if you put together all the pipelines laid down to carry fossil fuels, they’d be enough to circle the world. Hardly the climate president that the world needed.
Support was shown by people like Leonardo Di Caprio for the plaintiffs. Dr James Hansen has also been a vocal supporter of the case, and was shown briefly in the documentary. Some of Hansen’s communications have talked about the trial and can be found on his website.
It’s not right that children have the responsibility of fighting for their future, while the adults in charge go about trying to jeopardise that future by failing to tackle the climate crisis. Even though the lawsuit hasn’t succeeded yet, the most positive thing from this documentary, is that it has inspired children across the world to fight for their futures. As such Juliana v. United States has set a precedent. We can only hope they succeed and we must support these battles wherever we can. For as one person said in the documentary, “Liberty and justice can’t exist if we have a destabilised climate system.”
What is the current status of the lawsuit?
Where can I watch the Youth v Gov film?
My new cli-fi children’s picture book is Nanook and the Melting Arctic. Nanook is a caring polar bear who lives in the Arctic. But when his igloo starts melting, Nanook must find a way to save his friends and his home. He knows that the people who can help are also those who’ve caused the problem and he must find a way to convince leaders to act on the climate crisis. You can purchase Nanook from Amazon’s global stores including Amazon UK and Amazon US.