In the first case of its kind, Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik are accusing the Oregon state government of “failing to act to protect public resources for the future”. They claim that the state has violated their duties to protect the water, land and atmosphere.
They base their arguments on the fact that the Oregon state government committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 75% below 1990 levels, a target they are failing to follow through.
Hundreds came to the local courthouse on Wednesday to hear arguments in this precedent setting case.
The teenagers’ lawyers claim that the air we breathe should be considered a public resource like waterways. The state government has so far failed to protect future generations from the impact of climate change, the teenagers argue, and should be held accountable for their inaction.
The state’s attorneys argued that the public trust doctrine does not apply to the atmosphere, it only prevents the state from selling off submerged lands to private enterprise