Julia Olson on Representing the Climate Change Generation


Photo: Julia Olson, third from left, with a few of the plaintiffs she is representing. (Andy Nelson / Eugene Register-Guard)

In 2015, 21 young people sued the United States federal government over climate change. The plaintiffs argued that, by contributing climate change—by leasing public lands for developing fossil fuels, for example—the government has violated their rights to life, liberty, and property.

This week on As We Know It, Morgan speaks with Julia Olson, the Chief Legal Counsel for the 21 youth plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States. After two decades representing conservation groups working to protect the environment, Olson shifted to representing children: the future generation whose well-being will be determined by the actions we take to address climate change today.

Update: On January 17, 2020, a divided Ninth Circuit court dismissed the case. Though it recognized that the government is violating the youth’s constitutional rights, it decided that the issue is not one for the courts. In March, Olson and the plaintiffs filed a petition for the court to rehear the case. Dozens of Congresspeople, climate change and health experts, and organizations filed amicus curiae briefs in support.

Learn more at youthvgov.org.