Youth v Gov (2020) Movie Script

[orchestral music playing]
[boy speaking in Native language]
Hello, my name is Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh
I'm six years old.
And I just said a prayer
in my native language.
I was giving thanks to all the elements:
the water, the fire, the earth, the air.
[audience cheering]
Oh oh oh I said
No humans!
No don't cut down the trees
You're disturbing the land
And the breeze
[indistinct chatter]
[baby talk] Avery backpack
Yeah, there's Avery in her backpack.
[indistinct chatter]
[woman speaking in Native language]
Hello King, God on High.
Can you hear your people cry?
[woman] Who's that? There's your sister.
Oh Kelsey do you like being a big sister?
You do? Yeah
[baby Kelsey] Kelsey [indistinct]
[young woman] I mean, I think for a lot
of young people right now,
life is really scary,
because we've never seen a
moment like this in history.
And our feelings about
our life and our future
is all because of choices that
we had no participation in.
[crowd cheering]
[woman continues] And so the plaintiffs
joined this case
because we all know who's to blame
and what needs to be done.
[President Carter]
Our children will come of age
in the 21st century.
What kind of society, what kind of world
are we building for them?
[President Reagan]
It has fallen to us to begin the hard,
but necessary task, of
building a better future
for our children.
[President H.W. Bush]
We owe the generations of the future
the safekeeping of America's
precious environmental inheritance.
[President Clinton]
President Theodore Roosevelt
defined our great central task
as leaving this land even a
better land for our descendants
than it is for us.
[crowd cheering]
Our government could have done
something about climate
change over 50 years ago,
but prioritized profits
over the health and life
of our own children and
their children's children.
[President G.W. Bush]
Generations will know
if we kept our faith
and kept our word.
[President Obama] And when
our children's children
look us in the eye
and ask if we did all we
could to leave them a safer,
more stable world,
I want us to be able
to say, "Yes, we did."
Governments actions are inconsistent
with our most deeply held moral values.
Just as my family's farm is
threatened by climate change,
so too are the very stability
and vitality of our country.
[News Reporter] Twenty one young people
ages 11 to 22 are suing
the federal government.
[Steve Kroft] Of all the cases
working their way
through the federal court system,
none is more interesting or
potentially more life-changing
than Juliana vs. the United States.
[Crowd chanting] No justice, no peace.
No justice, no peace.
No justice, no peace.
No justice, no peace.
[birds chirping]
[cow mooing]
[sheep bleating]
Hey, Oliver.
How are you?
[Radio reporter] Twenty-one
young Americans are arguing
that they have a right to a safe climate.
So, what's your argument here?
Why are you saying that the
U.S. government should be sued?
[Vic] So us 21 young people are suing
the U.S. federal government
for taking direct action to put our future
disproportionately at risk
by subsidizing fossil fuels,
perpetuating the global climate crisis.
Yes, at least my favorite tree survived.
Ever since I was a tiny little toddler,
I've been climbing on this tree.
And every time I've slipped or fallen,
I've landed on one of her branches.
I think it's because she
acknowledges that I'm here.
[girl] We're not asking for money.
We're asking for the government
to make a steady plan
of how we can stop climate change.
[Vic] Our constitutional right
to life, liberty, and
property has been violated.
And we feel that young
people should be able
to bring this knowledge to the court
and really put it in front of them.
You know, I have ten binders
full of authorities and cases,
and I pulled out all the key cases
from last time around.
They're in here and then
these are new cases.
You ever have that feeling
where you wake up in the morning,
and before you even have a
single thought, you're anxious?
Rock and roll.
[playful music playing]
[woman continues] We are going
down to the office
to do the first moot court,
talking with everyone
about the best way to present
the arguments.
Practice, practice court.
Good morning, your honor.
May it please the court
I'm Julia Olson on behalf
of the plaintiffs.
Your honor, this case is about
government-imposed danger
and harm that shocks the conscience.
Just last week, defendant President Obama
said to the New York Times
that the reports he gets from
his top science advisor
on climate change are "terrifying."
Given those concessions,
the question in this case is
whether defendant's conduct
contributed to that monumental threat,
and if it rises to the level of
a constitutional violation.
The plaintiffs who have brought
this case forward
have such a personal stake in its outcome
that they are the most effective advocates
to bring these critical and timely
constitutional questions
to the court.
[Reporter] 14-year-old Jayden
Foytlin in Rayne, Louisiana
woke to flood water and sewage
pouring into her home.
18-year-old Nathan Baring
in Fairbanks, Alaska
sees his hometown slowly melting
with each warming winter.
And 17-year-old Jamie Butler,
from the Navajo Reservation
in Arizona, faces drought.
[Julia] Never before has a
government taken actions
that they knew would destroy the planet
and are doing it very effectively.
Liberty and justice cannot
exist if we have
a destabilized climate system.
The question for the court to decide
is whether young people have
constitutional rights
to a climate that sustains life,
and ultimately find a
solution and a remedy
that will force the federal government
to address climate change.
[Phil] We first filed the case
against the Obama administration.
The trade associations for
the fossil fuel industry
decided that they wanted to
intervene in our case.
They felt that the Obama administration
was not going
to protect their interests.
And so they filed motions
to dismiss trying to get
the case thrown out.
[Julia] Judge Coffin recommended rejecting
all of the defendants' arguments
and to fully deny the motions to dismiss.
[Reporter] In his ruling Judge
Thomas Coffin wrote,
"the failure to regulate the emissions
has resulted in a danger of
constitutional proportions
to the public health."
I was like, "Oh my God."
Yeah, no, I was like screaming,
I was flipping out.
Judge Coffin ruled in our favor.
He ruled in the favor of the young people
rather than with big money
and the government.
[Phil] The fossil fuel industry
didn't accept his ruling,
and so they appealed
to the District Court Judge Ann Aiken.
If we can convince Judge Aiken
that our claims are properly brought,
we are confident that she will
allow the case to go forward.
So Tuesday is incredibly important.
The 21 plaintiffs are coming out
from all around the country
and we'll be ready to rock it on Tuesday.
[indistinct chatter]
I'm here for a court case
against climate change.
[Cameraman] What are you gonna wear?
My bow tie that strangles me,
and my long pants
that are way too wide,
and my shirt that is way too
tight in the armpits.
Alright, we are out here
in front of the plaintiff's house,
and we're about to consume
some pizza and some Pepsi.
First we have to go down
to the gas station.
Yes, we do have to go down
to the gas station.
Oh, oh, there's Tia, there's Hazel.
[indistinct chatter]
We're gonna start just
by doing a real quick
reminders about tomorrow.
You've all heard it before.
So cell phones have to be
off in the courtroom.
You're all gonna look sharp, I know,
'cause you looked awesome last time.
Can we bring any other pieces of paper
or information into the room?
[Julia] Yes.
Okay, so if we got really bored,
we could stuff some math homework
into our pockets and do it on the--
You can totally do math.
[all laughing]
If you're bored to tears, please do math.
We're in a really good place right now.
We overcame the first huge
hurdle last March
and April with Judge Coffin's decision.
The government is really sort
of on the defense right now.
And so that's a really good
position for us to be in.
And, you know, she may ask
me really hard questions tomorrow.
-That's her job.
-[Nick] No, she will.
She will ask me really hard
questions tomorrow.
And that's okay, and we're gonna be ready.
[crowd cheering]
Alright, so you got some music for me?
You wanna do it, Aji?
Yeah, you guys take it.
[indistinct chatter]
Okay, okay, okay.
Go, go, go.
I wanna be free
So free like a flower and a bee
Like a bird up in the tree,
Like dolphin in the sea
I wanna fly high, so high
Like an eagle in the sky
And when my time is come
I'm gonna lay down and die
Oh Pachamama
[Julia] I was lucky to be working with
youth from around the country
and bringing climate cases through
Our Children's Trust
for about five years before
we filed this case.
So we're using these stories to really
get the message out there,
in addition to doing the legal work.
And from our connections to young people
around the country,
we started getting names
of young people, who wanted
to be a part of this case
against the United States government.
And Xiuhtezcatl Martinez was
one of the first plaintiffs.
I grew up in the Aztec tradition,
learning that all life is sacred
and that all life needed to be protected.
[Julia] And Kelsey Juliana.
I'm Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana.
I'll be 16 in two weeks.
I live in Eugene, Oregon.
And I'm me.
[audience laughing]
[Julia] Kelsey was the oldest.
She was like a big sister to everybody.
And so she humbly accepted
the first named plaintiff position.
[Kelsey] All of the plaintiffs
are part of this case,
because we as individuals,
we're feeling the effects
of climate change and we
wanted to do something.
Born into a world where
everything that I am
is slipping into the sea.
My minister at my church, he told my mom
and she asked me if I would like to do it.
And I said, "Sure," because
I love the environment.
[Kelsey] A handful of the kids I taught
summer camp to years ago.
I think that it's important
that you stand up
and show the government
that we have a voice
and we can change the world.
[crowd cheering]
[Kelsey] I'd reached out to Kiran.
Alex reached out to Jacob.
[Julia] And then word spread.
We come from all corners
of the United States,
from really different backgrounds,
different cultures,
all working together on this.
And that's a really amazing feeling.
[Levi] It's kind of nice,
because I'm an only child,
to have other siblings
that care about all the
same things that I do.
[Kelsey] We can lean on each other.
It's like we're in this together,
we understand.
[birds chirping]
One more bag of the kids'.
[indistinct chatter]
We must stand with the 21 kids
demanding government action
on #climatechange today.
[woman] That's who?
That is Leo DiCaprio.
Are you sure that's him?
Let me see here, he has
15.9 million followers.
It's probably the same one.
[boy] That was nice.
It's been posted for ten minutes.
There's already people at
the courthouse right now.
There's people standing outside.
[indistinct chatter]
[crowd cheering]
Alright, here we go.
[Cameraperson] So these are your
buddies in there, right?
-[All] Yeah.
[Julia] Good morning, Your Honor,
may it please the court.
I'm Julia Olson, counsel for plaintiffs.
I want to begin with Jayden's story,
because it is illustrative
of the injuries in fact
in this case.
Plaintiff Jayden is 13 years old.
She resides in Rayne, Louisiana.
In paragraph 87 of our complaint,
we allege that Jayden was threatened
with increased storm events and floods
that are created by the federal
defendants' actions.
[Reporter] We are following
this developing news
in the Gulf.
Millions of people on the coast,
they are preparing for a hurricane
that is expected
to trigger life-threatening floods,
perhaps worse than we've
seen in seven decades.
[Jayden] August 2016.
I hate that night.
My sister knocked on my door,
while I was sleeping.
"It's flooding. Hurry up and
get out of your room."
"We need help, blah, blah, blah."
"It's coming from your room."
And when I got out, I stepped
into the water,
and it was up to about where my jeans are.
It was up to here.
It was really bad, and we
didn't know what to do.
My mom was helping flood victims
in different towns
because we didn't think that
was gonna get here.
It's a pool in here Jayden.
[Jayden continues] We just got
a whole bunch of blankets,
pillowcases, towels, wash rags.
We just got everything we could
to soak up the water.
But of course, nothing could
soak up that water.
[Julia] Your honor, Jayden was living
through what has been measured
as a 1000-year-storm event.
Only these 500- and 1000-year-storm events
are not coming every 500
and 1000 years anymore.
We are preparing for hurricane Matthew.
I am very freaked out,
it's my first hurricane.
[Reporter] Tonight, deadly
Hurricane Matthew pummeling
the Central Florida coastline.
Power lines exploding and
breaking under the wind,
leaving more than one million
without power.
[Levi] Hurricane Matthew hit
Jacksonville head on.
And they've destroyed it.
And it's just so terrifying.
[Julia] This case is about
government-imposed harm that rises
to the level of infringement
of these plaintiffs'
inalienable constitutional rights.
We're seeing the very worst smoke
that we have ever seen out here,
since we started the farm 17 years ago.
All the animals are just
outside in the smoke.
I've been getting headaches.
According to the
Oregon Climate Assessment,
fire seasons in the Pacific Northwest
used to be about 23
days back in the 1970s.
And now they're around 120 days.
[Jaime] The Navajo
really live off the land.
But because of the drought
over a hundred horses died.
You have to get rid of the livestock.
And if this drought gets any worse,
I'm afraid that our way
of life will dissolve.
[Julia] These plaintiffs
have their inalienable rights
to their personal security, to life,
to liberties, to property.
They are entitled to have
this case heard on the merits.
Thank you very much.
[Judge] Thank you.
[indistinct chatter]
[Cameraman] How did
it go in there guys?
It was a hearing. No other comment.
[crowd cheering]
The United States Federal Government
and the biggest coalition
of fossil fuels in the world
may have just sat feet away from me
and tried to deny their
responsibility for climate change.
And we will not allow multi-billion dollar
industries to silence our voices.
We will not allow the federal government
to silence our voices.
We will continue to stand in our courts
to ensure a healthy,
just, sustainable planet
for our generation and those to follow.
Thank you.
[crowd cheering]
I think I've always looked
at this case as like,
wow you know, this is democracy in action.
That even if our president ignores us,
even if our Congress
works directly against us
we still have the courts,
and we'll still seek justice that way.
My name is Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana.
[Kelsey's Mom] That's a pretty name.
And I was born in the forest,
and my mom and dad got
married in the forest.
-[Kelsey's Mom] Really?
Tim's my papa and Catia is my mom.
[Kelsey] Back in early 1990s,
my parents met
helping to protect and
defend old growth forest.
Some of the last actually
in our entire nation.
And they were just absolute firecrackers.
There was a time when
there was a liquidation
of the ancient forest.
It's being destroyed, by an
out of control government.
It was a swirl of actions and energy.
[All chanting] No justice, no peace.
No justice, no peace.
No justice, no peace.
[Catia] And we were able to
get it protected permanently.
[Tim] It was barely two weeks after
we both graduated,
and all of a sudden we got the happy news
that we're gonna have a kid.
[Catia] She was born in
a little one-room cabin
in Fall Creek, Oregon.
[Catia in video]
There's Kelsey's role model.
[Kelsey laughing]
[Catia] I think there's a part
of her that still feels
really connected to
the cabin and Cascadia.
[Kelsey] I grew up
snowshoeing in the winter
and snow camping
But year after year, it's just getting
more increased severity droughts.
I mean this is February and
this place would normally be
in quite a bit of snow.
You know, knowing that my
kids might only know snow
through motion pictures.
That's very challenging to overcome.
We are threatened from
wildfires and we get crises
in our agriculture because
of the extreme drought
and I'm scared shitless for my future.
But then, I remember my parents
rising up over profits
and greed and illegal
activity from our government.
And they inspire me every single day.
[Catia] When opportunities arose,
she just said, "Like, I wanna do that."
You know, I always call
her the "Yes Girl."
And as a parent, I did have
a little bit of concern.
I just wanna make sure she was full on.
And that was coming from her impulse.
And it was.
So she really took the leadership
and we just support
her the best we can.
[Kelsey] I saw my
self-image from the history
that I knew of activism.
And I always pictured myself
right along with them.
Like, in all black and hiking
boots and in the long braid
with a megaphone in front of
some sort of timber machine.
"Don't cut down these trees."
"I speak for the Earth."
And it's going to be as
this one girl revolution.
You know, that was only ten years ago.
And now we're talking
about defending our homes
and our food system and our culture.
It's gonna take a lot more
than one girl with a megaphone.
[birds chirping]
[woman] It's cold.
I have a hood.
Like an old lady.
See what I just did for my ears.
[Jayden] What I want
the government to do is,
I want them to kind of take us seriously
whenever we say, "My house is
flooded or there's a drought."
And I want them to like
care for their people.
Being an indigenous person,
our environment
is something that's been
part of our culture for years
and something that we've
been protecting for years.
And I have a real deep love
for all of the Gulf Coast
and the people who live there.
I don't have kids yet,
but when I do have kids
I want to be able to come down here
and for them to see what it was like
when I was growing up.
The government, they still continue to
lease out the gulf or drill and frack.
That's just something that's like,
yo, I live here and you know that
the flood in 2016 was caused
because of climate change
but y'all still don't
do anything about it.
So I want them to take responsibility
and I want them to help Louisiana
and help the United States to get better.
And that's the reason why I'm suing.
[President Obama] I want our
actions to tell every child
in every neighborhood, your life matters.
And we are committed to
improving your life chances
as committed as we are to working
on behalf of our own kids.
And no challenge, no challenge,
poses a greater threat
to future generations
than climate change.
[crowd cheering]
[Julia] At the time we filed the case,
our hope was that the Obama administration
might take it seriously.
He had a lot of great rhetoric
and he understood the climate problem.
And he talked about the need
to protect future generations.
He talked the language of our case.
We've subsidized oil companies,
for a century. That's long enough.
It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways
and double down on a clean energy industry
that never has been more promising.
[Julia] There's great rhetoric.
But the actions do not match the words.
Hello Oklahoma! Under my administration,
America is producing more oil today
than at any time in the last eight years.
Over the last three years,
I've directed my administration
to open up millions
of acres for gas and oil exploration
across 23 different states.
Quadrupled the number of
operating rigs to a record high.
We've added enough pipeline
to encircle the earth.
And then some.
We are drilling all over the place
[Julia] He is subsidizing the industry,
permitting all the infrastructure,
opening up federal public lands.
And natural gas and oil production
in the U.S. just skyrocket.
You know that whole - suddenly America is
the biggest oil producer
and the biggest ga
That was me, people. I just want you to
[Julia] At the same time that Jayden
and my whole family were getting sick
from the contaminated
floodwaters in their home,
President Obama's administration
is holding an auction
to lease off more oil and
gas drilling in the Gulf.
And so after almost two terms of this,
it became clear that we
needed to file this lawsuit.
[President Obama]
And if we don't act forcefully,
we'll continue to see
[Julia] But ultimately
this case is not just
about the Obama administration.
[President G.W. Bush]
America is addicted to oil.
[Julia] Instead of following
the recommendations
of science and scientists,
every administration
just kept doubling down
on fossil fuel development.
And now we're the top oil and
gas producer in the world.
[Jayden] They knew what they were doing,
but they still continue to
do it for over 50 years.
They continue to violate my rights
and they know that they're
violating my rights.
Do they care?
Well, from the looks of it,
no, they don't.
Would they ever care?
We're going to make them.
Yeah, this is my room.
I kind of love it.
So here is my animals.
Yeah, I'm kind of obsessed with them.
We had a science fair
last year in fifth grade,
and I did how ocean acidification
affects different mollusk shells.
And then this really cute
calendar with donkeys.
Oh, Trump is elected.
Yeah, that's what I had to write,
'cause I was really, really sad.
Because he's definitely not gonna help
the climate change problem at all.
[audience cheering]
[President Trump] So Obama's
talking about all of this
with the global warming
and a lot of it is a hoax.
It's a hoax.
And by the way, it's supposed
to be 70 degrees today.
It's freezing here.
Speaking of global warming.
We need some global warming!
[Xiuhtezcatl] Before Trump was elected,
everything that happened that
was against the environment,
that was all happening kind
of behind closed doors.
People weren't paying
as much attention to it.
And now that Trump is elected,
it's all out in the open.
Climate denialism doesn't stand
a chance in a court of law.
And so it will be very clear,
I think for anybody
looking at the evidence,
that a President Trump is
going to make decisions
that further endanger
these youth plaintiffs,
in violation of their
constitutional rights.
We're not gonna see any climate policy.
We're not gonna see climate ever mentioned
by our president, no.
The only shot we have
is through the courts.
[birds chirping]
-Avery and Sahara.
I've got news.
"Exercising my reasoned
judgment," says Judge Aiken,
"I have no doubt that the
right to a climate system
capable of sustaining human life,
is fundamental to a free
and ordered society."
The federal judge issued
a favorable ruling
in your climate change lawsuit.
You guys are going to full trial.
See you in court government.
Judge Aiken denied the motions
to dismiss, which means--
[indistinct chatter and yelling]
Thank you, Judge Aiken.
You have stood up for our future.
I am speechless right now.
I'm really excited.
That's all I have to say.
Just really happy.
We did it.
[Steve Kroft] The federal
judge stunned the government
by denying its motion to dismiss the case
and ruling it could proceed to trial.
In what may become a landmark decision,
Judge Ann Aiken wrote,
"Exercising my reasoned judgment,
I have no doubt that the
right to a climate system,
capable of sustaining
human life, is fundamental
to a free and ordered society.
This action alleges the defendants
have so profoundly
damaged our whole planet
that they threatened plaintiffs'
fundamental constitutional
rights to life and liberty.
Just as marriage is the
foundation of a family,
a stable climate system is quite literally
the foundation of society.
without which there would be
neither civilization nor progress.
This part of the opinion,
she recognizes, for the first time,
that there's a fundamental
right to a climate system
capable of sustaining life.
And it wouldn't have
meant a lot 200 years ago,
because we didn't have the threats
to the climate system we have.
But it matters immensely today,
because we are on the verge
of losing that fundamental right.
I look forward to standing in trial
against the hundreds of oil companies
that have filed against us.
I look forward to standing in court
with all my wonderful fellow plaintiffs.
I love you all.
For me this is proof
that there is still good
and there is still justice in our system.
Hello, girl.
Hey, there you are girl.
Easy, easy, easy. Whoa.
I was actually not born
in the United States.
I was born in Quebec, Canada.
I moved here with my
parents when I was four,
and we gained American citizenship.
[engine roaring]
Good morning girls.
They chose this place,
because we're moderated
by the ocean and we have the mountains.
but we're not protected from droughts.
And we're also not
protected from wildfires.
And that's something that
could wipe out everything
that we've worked on
for the past 15 years.
Growing up doing everything from going out
to feed the chickens and gather eggs,
to going out to pick food in the orchard
and even cooking meals
from meat that comes
from our own animals
that we raised ourselves.
Food that we've grown in our garden.
Tropical greenhouse.
One of our recent goals had
been to grow bananas in Oregon.
And we actually succeeded.
These things are so essential
to life, Liberty, and property.
The ideals that this nation stands for.
The fact that we are bringing this case
and that the judge is moving this forward.
I love that in this country,
you have those freedoms,
and that we can fight for our rights.
I mean, that is an amazing thing.
[guitar/mandolin music playing]
[woman] Are you guys ready?
[Julia] Yeah, we're ready.
Quick update on what's happened
since last time we were
on that video call.
The intervener lawyers,
they're asking for a lot of
delays and we're saying "no"
to the delays.
You know, delay benefits them, right?
It's delay, delay, delay.
[Phil] In the next several months,
the case is really gonna heat up.
And so they are going to be coming at us.
They may ask you for documents.
And they may start asking
people for depositions.
So your involvement is gonna change.
[attorney] We're present for the
videotaped deposition
in the matter of Kelsey
Cascadia Rose Juliana et al.
plaintiffs vs. the
United States of America.
Will, the court reporter,
please swear in the witness.
[Court Reporter] Please
raise your right hand.
Do you solemnly swear
or affirm the testimony
you're about to give in
the cause now pending
shall be the truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth?
-I do.
-I do.
Yes ma'am.
[Defense Attorney] Let's
jump into the declaration.
[Defense Attorney] Could
you explain the relationship
between not enough snowfall
and the water level in the Mackenzie?
Have you studied the level
of this particular aquifer?
Could you quantify what the likelihood
that the Marshall Islands
will be underwater
in the near future?
[Julia] Objection calls
for expert testimony.
[Defense Attorney] Can we agree, though,
that no doctor has told you
that your asthma is getting
worse because of climate change?
They have told me that
because of the smoke,
my asthma will get worse.
And my asthma is not getting any better
due to the wildfires, which
is caused by climate change.
[Defense Attorney] You haven't
done any scientific research
into how greenhouse gases
contribute to climate change.
No, I have not performed
any scientific experiments myself.
[Defense Attorney]
Is there a different type
of climate change that is
not caused by defendants?
Have you measured the snow pack?
No, that's not my job.
[Defense Attorney] And so I'm wondering
if you've gone back and measured
the rest of human
civilization when what exactly
the climate was like at
various points in time?
[Plaintiff Attorney] Objection-- vague,
ambiguous, nonsensical.
I have not gone back and
measured personally, but yeah.
[Defense Attorney] So let's assume that
the United States no longer permitted
and authorized all fossil fuel
emissions, what would happen?
That's such a speculative question.
I don't know how I could
possibly answer that.
[Defense Attorney] Do you know
if defendants in this case
are denying that climate
change is happening?
I know that the President has tweeted
that climate change is a
hoax made up by the Chinese.
[Defense Attorney]
Would the winters be colder?
I don't know whether they'd
be colder than today.
-I can't answer that.
But they will be much, much warmer
if you keep doing what you're doing now.
[Defense Attorney] what actions
has the government taken
to enhance climate change?
Overwhelmingly supporting the industries
that are most responsible for emitting
these fossil fuel
emissions that have created
our climate crisis.
[Defense Attorney] When is the
land in Manhattan threatened?
There'll be noticeable changes by 2050.
[Defense Attorney] What is your basis
for that understanding?
NOAA predictions as to how
high sea level rise will be
by that time.
[Julia] And I'd like
to note for the record
that the questions of counsel
for defendants have been
repetitive and redundant.
They've often asked
questions that are questions
for experts, wasting both
our time and your time,
that does border on
harassment of the witnesses.
[Defense Attorney]
Okay, I think that's it.
[Phil] Thank you. No questions.
[Court Reporter]
We're off the record at 1:47.
Thank you so much.
[woman] Congratulations to the
Class of 2017.
[audience cheering]
[Vic] Graduation, yup,
I'm graduating high school today.
[indistinct chatter]
I'm not in high school anymore.
That's cool.
I'm happy that my dad is here.
He doesn't really believe
in climate change.
We both grew up in the Upstate, in rural
predominantly white conservative areas.
Obviously we just responded
to it differently.
Why is it that you have
to go to government
to get your rights
for something that they
have no control over?
Because they do have control.
The United States government
actively takes action
that allows fossil fuel
development in our country.
That is the reason that our
carbon emissions are so high.
And that's why we so heavily contribute
to the global climate crisis.
I wish the urgency was
explained a little better,
because it's almost like
Little Chicken's running around,
"The sky is falling."
And no one would believe her.
Someone builds their house in a flood zone
and it hasn't flooded
for the past 50 years,
and all of a sudden it floods, is it
someone else's responsibility?
But you're literally
trying to like rationalize
the displacement of millions of people.
I'm not rationalizing.
I'm just saying that there
can be a catastrophe.
There can be anything
that could happen to you.
But this is not something
that just happened.
This is something that's being perpetuated
and something that can be stopped.
That's the difference.
You may be incredulous about my opinion
about some of these things,
but trying to influence
me is going to be a test,
because for the next
period of time with Trump
in the White House and conservatives
or whatever in control of a lot of things,
you're gonna have to convince them too.
And that's gonna be an undertaking.
-[birds chirping]
-[chatting indistinctly]
The test for us continuing
in the case is a test
around a legal doctrine called "Standing."
Based on injury, causation,
and redressability.
Our evidence clearly
established that the plaintiffs
have been injured.
But now the government wants to bore down,
in essence challenging whether or not
our plaintiffs' harm was caused
by the federal defendants.
And so we really need
to go out and determine
what did the government know,
when did it know it, and
what did it do about it?
We found an expert by the
name of Mike MacCracken,
who was the key climate
scientists for decades.
For our complaint, documents that would be
most helpful to us would be
ones from U.S. policy makers,
admitting that they had the knowledge
and yet they caused the
damage, enhanced the danger
by continuing to permit the
extraction of fossil fuels.
Oh dear.
There, see.
[Mike] So I've got lots
of potential documents.
[Phil] This is great.
[Curtis] Wow.
[Mike] So this whole shelf, pretty much
is National Academy of Science reports.
[Phil] Oh, excellent.
[Mike] Okay, and these are
the official communications
from the United States to
the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change.
Carbon Dioxide Research Conference.
Well, I have two of these.
You know, aquatic resources, agriculture.
I mean, there's all
these different reports.
They just knew all this was happening.
I mean, that's when they
started editing climate reports.
This is-- Nicky was also involved in--
Technology policy, yeah, Nicky.
[Nicky] A friend of mine,
Mike MacCracken, asked me
if I was willing to share some information
with the attorneys.
And I brought up just
four of dozens of boxes
that I have downstairs.
And what do you have?
Climate Change Policies and Regulations.
[Nicky] Roughly from 1982 to 1990,
I worked for the Congressional Office
of Technology Assessment--
Congress' think tank.
And in the mid 80s, OTA started
a study on climate change.
And I worked on that report.
There were documents that I had requested
or that were given to me.
Or that I picked up in a
congressional hearing and so on.
Oh yes, yes, yes.
[Nicky] I've been working
on it for 40 years.
So it goes back to the 1970s.
How could this be?
How could she have this much stuff?
[Nicky] And this is before the internet.
So a lot of this stuff
isn't really available
in any other form, other than paper.
In every one of these boxes is
evidence of the government's
longstanding knowledge of climate danger.
I need a staff.
[Phil] We started exchanging
the names of experts
to testify in court.
Jim Hansen has always been
sort of one assessment round
ahead of everybody.
[Reporter] Dr. James
Hansen, director of NASA's--
[Reporter] The government's
best known scientist
was called before the Senate
subcommittee on Science today.
He said, he'd been ordered to
[Julia] Jim Hansen, he was
one of the foremost scientists
and he sounded alarm bells in the 80s.
And he kept at it.
[Dr. Hansen] This evidence
represents a very strong case
and that the greenhouse
effect has been detected
and it is changing our climate now.
[Julia] I met Gus Speth.
He was the head of CEQ during
the Carter administration,
when the knowledge was deeply
embedded in government.
It's hard for me to imagine
a more serious environmental issue.
[Julia] So far, we have 20 experts,
and tens of thousands of pages of evidence
documenting all the relationships
between government and
the fossil fuel industry.
'Cause we have Hansen saying
that they were concealing
the dangers to the public.
That's in his expert report.
We have facts that they knew
that children were more vulnerable.
And then they did an opposite
of what a reasonable person would do
when the CDC tells you you have a crisis,
you wouldn't just sit there
and say, "I don't care."
We may be able to win this thing.
[all laughing]
It's gonna take us a
good year to get to trial
with all of the discovery we have to do
and the evidence we need to accumulate
and get ready to present to the court.
We just wanna uncover as much as we can.
[Julia] Paragraph 150,
that's too important.
[Phil] That's key.
We have evidence going back to the 50s
that both government and the
fossil fuel industry knew
that if they continue
to burn fossil fuels,
that it would melt the ice sheets,
cause sea level rise,
it would intensify storms and hurricanes,
and cause catastrophic impacts.
So in the 60s the scientists
are really starting
to send alarm bells off to government.
And what's amazing is how much they knew
and how much danger they were projecting.
They had the information
we needed to invest
in these alternative technologies.
And Nixon was all about
the electric vehicle.
[President Nixon] Within four years,
the emissions from automobiles,
which pollute the environment,
will be reduced by 90%.
[Julia] At the time,
we could have been on a totally
different pathway.
But then the oil crisis hits
[Reporter] It has common in many states
in the East. Cars have
been lining up before dawn,
which was an opportunity to invest
in alternative energy sources.
This is when Gus Speth is the head of CEQ.
I'd had a chance to brief Carter.
It was just the two of
us sitting in the room.
And I issued several major
reports on what could be done
to change the trajectory of the country.
There is no longer any
question that solar energy
is both feasible and also cost-effective.
[Julia] Carter starts off great.
He puts solar panels on
the White House and he says
we can have 2.5 million
solar homes by 1985.
He's talking about mass
transit and insulating homes
and all these alternative technologies.
But then he decides that
really what we need to do
is develop the nation's coal resources
as a way to respond to the oil crisis.
I am asking for the most
massive peace-time commitment
of funds and resources
in our nation's history.
Increased reliance on
coal is a crucial part of
the Carter Administration Energy Program.
[Julia] There's this federal
coal leasing program.
They open offshore
lands for more drilling.
And those partnerships between government
and the fossil fuel industry
start to really develop.
By the time we're in the
Reagan administration,
that relationship is firmly sealed.
[President Reagan]
This nation is energy rich,
but we've got environmentalist,
who wouldn't let you build
a house unless it looked
like a bird's nest and
they must be restrained.
Inefficient and burdensome regulations.
The environmental protection agency
has gone to an extreme.
Reagan basically took a flame-thrower
to all the solar and renewable programs.
And there was an explosion
of fossil fuel development.
[Julia] You see this massive increase
in US fossil fuel emissions.
Experts from within the
industry and within government
really start freaking out.
Scientists like Jim Hansen were saying,
"We have to act now."
Over and over.
"We have to act now."
Droughts will intensify at
low and middle latitudes
as the greenhouse warming proceeds.
[Nicky] I was standing
in the back of the room
when Hansen testified
[Dr. Hansen] I would like to draw three
[Nicky] That was really a critical moment.
[Dr. Hansen] Number one,
this evidence represents
a very strong case in my opinion,
that the greenhouse
effect has been detected
and it is changing our climate now.
[Nicky] That information
constituted a threat
to the fossil fuel industry.
And it turns out that there was pressure
to water down his testimony.
I told chairman Al Gore
that my testimony had been
changed by the White House.
The last paragraph in that
section was not a paragraph
which I wrote that was
added to my testimony.
In essence, it says that I believe
that all the scientific
conclusions that I just
discussed are not reliable.
And I certainly don't agree with that.
[Nicky] The federal science
establishment was under attack.
[Reporter] Doctor, are you
worried about retaliation?
[Julia] The Reagan
administration begins an era
of people working behind the scenes
trying to ignore and suppress the science.
And it continued throughout
the Bush administration.
[Gus] When George Herbert
Walker Bush was campaigning,
he made a great speech.
Those who think we're
powerless to do anything
about this greenhouse
effect are forgetting
about the White House effect.
[Gus] Meanwhile, more or
less unnoticed was this team
in the White House.
His chief of staff, John Sununu,
and his science advisor, Allan Bromley.
[Julia] They were discrediting
science and scientists,
all for the almighty dollar.
[Reporter] George Bush had pledged to be
an environmental president.
But reportedly prodded by
Chief of Staff John Sununu,
President Bush is backing off.
We're gonna sign the
Energy Policy Act of 1992.
[crowd cheering]
[Gus] The federal government
was forced, in a way,
to embrace the fossil fuel
industry as a partner.
I believe that this act opens a new era
in which government
acts not as the master,
but as a partner and a servant.
[crowd cheering "Four more years."]
[Nicky] When Clinton came
into office, there was a sense
that this was going to
be a big opportunity
to make some real progress
on climate change.
[President Clinton] The United States has
less than 5% of the world's people,
but emits more than 25% of
the world's greenhouse gases.
Heat waves, floods, and
storms are but a hint
of what future generations may endure,
if we do not act now.
[Gus] In the end,
they perpetuated all the programs
that support fossil fuel development.
All the permitting programs,
the leasing programs,
it all continued in the Clinton years.
And going on up through the
George W. Bush administration.
[President G.W. Bush]
Our nation must produce more oil.
And we must start now.
We should expand oil
production by tapping into
the extraordinary potential of oil shale.
Expand and enhance our refining capacity,
increasing access to the
outer continental shelf,
permitting exploration
in the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR.
[Nicky] The Bush administration
installed what I would call
"gatekeepers," who systematically
downplayed and censored
anything having to do with climate change.
A lobbyists for ExxonMobil wrote a memo
that recommended the Bush
administration get rid of people
in the National Climate Assessment.
I mean, he actually
identified them by name.
[Gus] This whole period is a history
of good advice, ignored.
It was worse than neglect.
It was affirmative action
that created the problem.
It was the effort of
the federal government
to define energy policy in a way
that prioritized fossil development.
All the transportation and pipelines
and other systems that were needed.
It was a federal government subsidization,
even to this day of fossil fuel use.
Every administration.
No matter what they were
saying about the climate issue
behind the scenes, it was all fossil.
Louisiana would be so pretty,
but there's stuff like that
that's changing it for me and
the people that live here.
They don't care for Louisiana.
They don't care about the
people that live here.
They're not doing this
for a brighter future
and they're not doing it
so we can have the energy
they're doing it for money.
[Julia] You know, we're bound by this
fossil fuel energy system.
We're locked into it.
Just like these kids are
locked into the climate system.
[car alarm ringing]
So we gotta finish getting ready to leave.
Anything that you feel is of value
has got to be at least--
[Levi] Ten inches off the ground?
[James] Yeah.
[Levi] Hurricane Irma is a
massive Category 5 hurricane.
And this is the second
time that there has been
a mandatory evacuation in one year.
Levi, can you go get the water pitcher?
I'm gonna need it to filter fresh water.
[water splashing]
[Levi] Lots of utility people.
Now we can open up our shutters.
My bedroom's fine. Don't judge it.
This is my shelf.
This is my all-time favorite place to go
when I was scared, because
there was the hurricane.
I came up here, and this
is where I felt safe.
Because I knew if it flooded
that it couldn't wreck
anything here and everything.
So, I knew that I could
trust this area right here.
Crap! This is new.
It's very frightening and disturbing
to see this giant tree down
in one of my best friend's yard.
I've lived with the hurricanes
my whole entire life.
And even though it's reality,
it's really scary.
[Jaime] All of our traditions
and everything is based here.
And a lot of our origin
stories are from here.
We can't just leave, because
it's just too sacred for us.
[Kelsey] It's all been
a matter of choices,
and our feelings of despair
and dread and anxiety
is all because of choices that
we had no participation in.
Everything could have changed.
Like really before I was born.
I was born in '71.
[Nixon] I think 1971 will be
known as the year of action
for the future generations of America.
[Gus] The history of this
whole period has got to be
the saddest story ever told.
This huge failure to rise to the moment,
I think it's the greatest dereliction
of civic responsibility in
the history of the Republic.
When I look back over that period of time,
I think in some sense, I've failed
to do really, to accomplish
what I wanted to accomplish.
I'm very gratified that somebody
can make use of my documents.
[Julia] This is why we need trial,
because the story has to come out.
And government can come in and
make their case if they want.
But a judge needs to hear from both sides.
Because if it's as bad as we think it is,
and all the evidence we have indicates,
it's the biggest crime
against humanity ever.
And it's a constitutional
violation by any standard.
As soon as they realized this case
was not gonna be dismissed.
And it was looking like
we were headed toward
a speedy trial,
the fossil fuel companies realized
that our legal team
would be able to get at
the fossil fuel companies'
internal documents.
Those documents would show
the extent of the knowledge
and the coverup on the part
of the fossil fuel companies.
So they requested to leave the case.
It's a big victory.
Because the point of this
case is holding accountable
the US government.
[Julia] So the status report,
we're getting three more requests
for production of documents out.
[Phil] We're waiting for their response.
How do you want us to handle it, because--
[Phil] Julia, I have no
problem pushing back on it.
We sent this to them how many days ago?
[Julia] Twenty.
[Phil] So I've been
practicing for 40 years
and I've never seen anything
like the procedural shenanigans
the Department of Justice put us through
to keep this case from going to trial.
There were numerous writs
filed with the Ninth Circuit.
Two petitions filed
with the Supreme Court.
And any attorney will tell
you that that's extraordinary.
They file a writ of mandamus saying
that the federal government
is gonna be damaged
if the Department of Justice
has to try this case.
Well, that's what lawyers
at the Department of Justice
do for a living.
They try cases.
So the Ninth Circuit has decided
that it's going to have
a hearing to determine
whether or not the case can move forward.
[Julia] They can't demonstrate
that climate change is not happening.
They're not gonna be able to prove
that they don't have a
substantial role in it.
And, I think it's gonna be very hard
for them to put on a factual
defense in this case,
which is why they want to avoid it.
[Bailiff] All rise.
The United States Court of Appeals
is now in session.
[gavel banging]
[Judge] You may be seated.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen
Mr. Grant, you ready to proceed?
Your Honors, discovery is burdensome.
There are document requests
that go back to 1965.
There are scheduled to be depositions
of eight cabinet agencies.
[Judge Thomas] But we don't
have a court order here.
We don't have any dispute about discovery,
except you say that it's burdensome.
So why does that justify mandamus?
Well, your Honor, again
that's not the only burden.
After that will come a bifurcated trial.
A trial that the plaintiffs themselves
trumpet to the world will be
the "trial of the century,"
and the clearly meritless
character of the claims asserted
I think add up to the
really extraordinary case
that justifies mandamus.
Your Honors, we know of no
federal court ever dismissing
a constitutional case on
the grounds of mandamus.
It would be extraordinary
and unprecedented
for the court to do so here.
Particularly in light of the court--
[Judge Kozinski] There there's
no precedent whatsoever.
The constitutional rights
to avoid global warming?
[Julia] Let me turn to that actually,
because the defendants
here concede large portions
of the factual allegations in the case,
including the fact that climate change
poses a monumental threat
to public health and safety
and that's
[Judge Kozinski] You never
answered my questions.
[Julia] Well, your honor taking that
[Judge Kozinski] I think
that's saying basically
there was no claim at all.
What the complaint alleges is
that the federal defendants
collectively, and through the
fossil fuel energy system,
are affirmatively depriving
these young people
of their rights to life,
liberty, and property.
[Judge Kozinski] But no
different than anybody else.
[Julia] Children are
disproportionately experiencing
the impacts of climate change
and will going forward.
In addition, your Honor, they
will live far longer than you.
So the significance of the harm,
the monumental threat
that these injuries pose
to these plaintiffs is
very distinguishable
from the rest of the country.
We simply ask that the court send it back
to the District Court so
that these young people
can go to trial and
present their historical
and scientific evidence
and make their case.
[Judge Thomas] Thank you, counsel.
Thank you both for your arguments today.
The case just heard will
be submitted for decision
and we will be in recess for the morning.
[crowd cheering]
[Cameraman] Three, two.
What's up? I'm Gabby Wilson for MTV News.
And I'm here in Washington,
DC with Alex Losnak.
How are you doing, man?
Good, good, it's nice weather.
I thought it'd we more like
House of Cards or something,
but it's a nice day here.
What are you doing in DC
this weekend and this week?
Yeah, so I'm one of a
group of young people
who are suing the Trump administration
for the right to a livable climate.
And our group is here marching
in the March for Science
and The People's Climate March.
We're taking our message
directly to politicians,
people in power here in DC.
Okay, smile.
Alright, my favorite
footnote at the bottom
[indistinct chatter]
[Xiuhtezcatl] To have our day in court,
to have our opportunity to testify,
you gotta stand up for our lawsuit,
for our voices, for our rights,
and for our future.
Keeping hope alive is I think one
of the most important things you gotta do.
-[Xiuhtezcatl singing]
-[crowds cheering]
[indistinct lyrics]
-[Levi] What do we want?
-[Crowd] Climate justice.
-[Levi] When do we want it?
-[Crowd] Now!
I feel so happy to be
here with my fellow plaintiffs.
I love these people, these
people are my family.
[crowd cheering]
Study the history
People singing songs of freedom
While we marching in the streets
Yes this is critical
It's extremely important
for us young people
to stand up to our government
where the adults are doing nothing.
[Reporter] Levi, you look
like a happy camper today,
so I have to believe
[indistinct chatter]
The federal government has
very knowingly and willfully
funded this climate crisis
and the way that they are continuing
to stall and delay our climate case
shows you exactly their priorities.
Climate science will get its day in court,
where facts are facts
and where alternative facts are perjury.
[crowd cheering]
[Xiuhtezcatl] A lot of young
people are ready for change.
I mean, our voices have been
systemically disempowered
since the day that we're born.
But the way that I see is we're
one of the most powerful
forces on the planet right now,
we gotta use that.
[audience cheering]
My name is Aji Piper.
I'm 18 years old and one
of the 21 young Americans
who filed the landmark
constitutional climate lawsuit,
Juliana v. The United States.
Mr. Piper, how would you respond
to this current administration's omissions
and outright denial of science?
Thank you for the question,
and I sued them.
[all laughing]
Sorry, on a less humorous
note and a more serious note.
The government is taking
actions that are directly
contributing to the
destruction of our planet.
It is actively abusing the trust
of its most vulnerable citizens.
[Aji] Like youth who have come before us
in the civil rights movement
and other social justice movements.
it is often the young among
us that shine the light
on systems of injustice.
[crowd clapping]
-Hello everybody! Good morning.
-[Crowd] Good morning.
This lawsuit is so important,
because when you get to court
spin and industry nonsense
can be cross-examined.
When you get to court,
conflicts of interest can be exposed.
When you get to court, facts matter.
[crowd cheering]
The green generation standing
behind me is going to win.
These are the people, who
are leading the charge
for our next generation.
Thank you all so much.
[crowd cheering]
I was in this lawsuit when it started--
[Richard] Any time you try
to do something big
and ambitious through the courts,
the odds are likely that
it's not gonna work out.
But every once in a while, it does.
It's not an accident that
Brown v. Board of Education,
which is the great moment of success
in the litigation campaign
for Black civil rights,
happens in 1954.
[Reporter] You feel it's
worth it going through this?
Yes, I do.
[Richard] It's not because
the constitution changed,
it's because the constitution requires
equal protection of the laws.
[crowd cheering]
And different people at different times
have different intuitions
about what the common sense
of that means.
[Ruth Bader Ginsburg]
I ask no favor for my sex.
All I ask of our brethren
is that they take their feet
off our necks.
I say I think you marrying who you want to
is a right that no man should
have anything to do with.
[Richard] Success in the
courts sometimes depends on
the relationship between the case
and the larger political
movements in society.
[Reporter] Separate but
equal would no longer
be the law of the land.
[Reporter] The United States
Supreme Court struck down laws
banning interracial marriage.
[Reporter 1] Speaking to you from
the steps of the Supreme Court.
There is a right to marriage equality,
read just from the bench.
[Reporter 2] Legalizing same sex
marriage across the land.
[Richard] The constitution
is the repository
of the deepest values
and highest ideals of the American people.
The arc of the moral universe is long,
but it bends towards justice.
[indistinct chatter]
[Richard] But the deepest
values and highest aspirations
of the American people change over time.
[slow music plays]
[Aji] What will you tell your
children about responsibility
if you fail to act now
in the face of crisis?
You have a choice.
Will you deprive your
children and young people
across the country of their
fundamental right to liberty
or will you fight to protect us
and our nation for posterity?
My community and my future,
and that of my generation, is at stake.
This is the moment for heroism,
for standing with children
around our country,
standing with me.
Thank you so much.
[water trickling]
I mean, I guess you could look at it like
it's a hopeful sign,
like the tides are turning, you know?
This is the scene in the
movie where, you know,
everything is sort of
It's a turning point.
[dramatic music plays]
[Phil] We had their eight experts,
our 18 experts,
and the 21 youth plaintiffs
all needing to be deposed.
[Julia] We did close to
50 depositions in 60 days.
My team was all over the country.
I was frequently in
three cities in one week.
The government finally under
the court order had to disclose
their exhibit list.
And they told us they would
have maybe 70 documents.
Turns out they had 1600
documents and about 80,000 pages.
And when you're preparing for argument,
you have to be ready
to answer any question
about anything that's in front of them.
[indistinct chatter]
[Julia] It's fine on knowledge.
[Phil] The final challenge
for us continuing in the case
is for the judge to determine
if the courts can redress
or fix the injury to the plaintiffs.
One of the kinds of
remedies that federal courts
are sometimes authorized to provide
is called "declaratory relief."
That's a fancy way of saying
the court can say who's right
and who's entitled to what
without actually ordering that
anything specific be done.
Declaratory relief can matter,
because a statement
from a court that says,
"Hey this is happening.
It's life-threatening,
it's Republic threatening."
Is the sort of thing that
people will pay attention to.
[Phil] The court will
then take the various
scientific evidence
and set fossil fuel emissions targets,
and require the federal
government to develop
and implement a plan to hit those targets
in order to save the climate
for not only these young plaintiffs,
but future generations.
[crickets chirping]
[indistinct chatter]
[Reporter 1] The Supreme Court
has blocked an unprecedented
climate change lawsuit in Oregon.
The trial was supposed to start,
but the case is now back in limbo.
The Supreme court will now have to decide
if the lawsuit can move forward.
[Reporter 2] Twenty-one young people,
ages 11 to 22, are suing
the federal government.
[Phil] Today's the day
we've been scheduled
to go to trial for months.
But at the very last minute,
the federal government
files a petition with the Supreme Court
to stop the case.
And so as a result, trial could not start
until the Supreme Court
issued a further order.
[Vic] We're here because this
was supposed to be the start
of everything we've been working towards.
And it's not.
[Julia] Courtroom One of
our federal courthouse
is sitting empty right now.
Instead of being full of life,
with the lights on and justice
being heard, it's dark.
So this case that should
have had opening statements
today is a case of born
of love and compassion
and equality and justice
against a political system
that has deprived them,
not only of their voice,
but is depriving them of their
equal rights under the law,
of safety in their homes, of their health,
of their schools that are being flooded.
And Levi, where are you?
Levi was so upset when his
deposition was canceled,
because our government says
that if we don't stop this
problem of fossil fuel pollution,
his island will be
underwater in his lifetime.
And that is why the Supreme Court
of the United States cannot stop this case
against our government, so
that they may stand trial
for the deprivations to these
young people and their future.
[crowd cheering]
There's a danger
And it's up ahead
Fracking oil out the ground
Killing everything around
Turn the grass to black and brown
There's a danger up ahead
Building pipelines across the lands
Spilling all that black tar sand
Truly is a vile plan
There's a danger up ahead
There's a danger, danger up ahead
[indistinct chatter]
[Jayden] Sometimes I feel
like being a plaintiff
in this lawsuit.
It's very frustrating.
But I've never felt like quitting.
I always felt like I know
what I'm doing is right.
I remember like a year
after I joined the case,
some people supported me
and some people would even
be like, "Oh, thank you."
But there were still a lot
of people that were like,
"Oh if you're against the oil
companies, you're against me."
I told my best friend that
I was part of the case.
And she was actually very proud.
But her mom wasn't very
supportive of what I was doing.
We all know it's about the
fact that I'm going against
oil companies and the fact that
I am against climate change.
And so she cut off all
connections between me
and my best friend.
Yeah, I lost Madison, but
I also gained Aji and Jamie
and Avery and Sahara and Isaac and Miko.
So I don't really mind losing Madison.
If I lose all of them,
it would be like ten times worse.
'Cause they're the ones
that fill me with comfort.
I have something to say.
This past week for me has
been kind of difficult
just because I've been very
frustrated and kind of sad.
There is a decent chance that because of
these latest developments, this
case may never go to trial.
I always trying to think
about the worst case scenario,
which in some cases it makes
me feel a little bit better
at times, is that even if
the worst does come to pass,
we can be the foundations for
a lot of other legal cases.
And more importantly, we can show
how the current system is
broken and the possible ways
it can be improved.
It can be a beacon of hope to others.
We're out of options.
We're out of choices.
We're out of time,
we're out of places to look
and excuses to make.
We're out of, you know fingers
to point and people to blame.
That's gone.
This planet isn't gonna
support life anymore.
People don't get that.
My friends don't get that.
I feel like much of my
family doesn't get that.
I feel like most of the
world doesn't get that.
[Reporter] The US government
says natural disasters
are worsening because of climate change.
The National Climate Assessment, compiled
by 13 federal agencies,
was released Friday.
[Reporter 2] Scientists say
by the end of the century,
the US could be up to 12 degrees warmer.
Experts say that we have until
2030 to avoid catastrophe.
[Reporter] Have you read
the climate report yet?
Yeah, I don't believe it.
-[Reporter] You don't believe it?
-No, no, I don't believe it.
[Julia] We have people
keeping track of every action
that the Trump administration
is taking to double down
on fossil fuel energy and pull
back on climate protections.
And so every time they take a new action,
it's more evidence to just prove up
the constitutional violation.
We have a system of checks and balances
with three branches of government.
If Congress or the Presidency,
or both, are controlled
by people who are going to
act oppressively in some way,
the court is supposed to be able to say,
"No, you can't do that."
[Phil] So our next move is
to file a motion to expedite
the appeal, saying that the
case should move forward,
particularly given the
urgency of climate change.
[indistinct chanting]
[Phil] Youth are taking to the streets.
There's climate strike marches
all over the headlines.
Youth and climate.
We're not willing to wait around
for someone else's timeline to dictate
the trajectory of our lives.
And whether we win the lawsuit or not,
we are already making ripples in the world
to show real change can
come from young people
standing up for what they believe in.
[audience cheering and clapping]
[alarm ringing]
[Levi's Mom] Levi, come on.
It's time to get up.
You have to get up.
You have pants on?
Okay, get out of bed please.
That's not right.
[both laughing]
I look like a demon.
I know how to do it theoretically.
Yeah, it seems like everyone's
pretty darn fatigued at this point.
Yeah, it's like we're
all at the same place.
We're all tired of waiting.
Just like tensions
definitely seem a bit high,
like across the board.
[indistinct chatter]
Okay, we give you all the complaints.
[indistinct chatter]
[Julia] What's the time check?
[indistinct chatter]
Do we have all our legal team?
[Julia] You know,
I think about what's at stake,
and it feels overwhelming.
[Vic] We've always had important hearings
that have ramifications for our case,
but I think if I let it be
as big as it actually is,
it's just gonna stress me out
more than I need to be stressed.
This hopefully is the
last hearing before trial
and not the last hearing altogether.
But whatever happens,
we've accomplished a lot.
And what else is there to do,
but to go forward.
The reason I've been
doing this from day one
the reason I still do it today,
is because I really do
fundamentally believe
that climate change is the
biggest issue of our time.
And if young people aren't
doing something to stop it
it's not gonna be stopped.
And if it's not stopped, our
existences in the future
I don't even know what they'll look like,
but I don't think I wanna see it.
I think I'm ready.
[upbeat music playing]
I'll be bold
As well as strong
Use my head
Alongside my heart
[upbeat music plays]
[indistinct chatter]
Let's open up, everybody!
[all cheering]
[crowd cheering]
[indistinct chatter]
[Jacob] Our legal system
is ultimately about
deeply held moral values.
It's a living entity.
So you have to strike a balance
between respecting the documents,
like the Constitution,
and then finding out what was
the life in these documents.
What was the truth, and how
does it apply to us today?
And then I think we have a strong case,
and you know,
and hopefully that's enough.
-[gavel banging]
-All rise.
[dramatic music playing]
[Judge] Please be seated.
We're ready to proceed with the case
Kelsey Rose Juliana v.
the United States of America.
If the parties are ready to proceed,
please come forward.
Good afternoon, your Honors,
and may it please the court.
This is a suit that we
believe is a direct attack
on the separation of powers.
Plaintiffs are essentially
trying to constitutionalize
administrative law.
[Judge] Is there no set of facts
that would allow a suit of this sort?
Let's take it out of its present context.
Let's assume that there
was an immediate threat
to the life of various plaintiffs.
And that threat could only be averted
by Executive Branch action.
Are you saying that the plaintiffs
would have no option but to die?
That's not the institutional competence
of the Judicial Branch,
your Honor, it's not to deal
with exigent threats like that.
That's what the Executive Branch is for.
[Judge Hurwitz] See you're
making separate arguments here,
and what I'm trying to figure out is,
would have an absence of standing argument
in that circumstance?
We would argue
that there's an absence of standing
unless someone had independent standing
for an environmental harm that was direct
to them and more immediate.
Thanks very much, your Honors.
Good afternoon.
May it please the court. I'm Julia Olson.
The stay in this case should be lifted
and the case should be remanded for trial.
And that would provide
the best opportunity
for appellate review.
So, the only context where a
government's failure to act
can constitute a fifth amendment violation
is in the context of state-created danger.
In this court's line of cases,
[Judge Hurwitz] But can a state
create a danger by failure to act?
No, I don't think the fifth
amendment provides plaintiffs
with a claim for pure inaction,
but it does provide them a
claim when the government
has affirmatively acted to promote
a fossil fuel energy system.
And when the federal
government controls the system
facilitates it, subsidizes it,
promotes it as it does,
that creates a claim for a substantive
due process violation.
[crowd cheering]
[Judge Hurwitz] Could
the plan that you foresee
be undertaken without
any congressional action?
Yes, your Honor. In fact, we have
the expert evidence in the record
as to the feasibility of the remedy.
And there's abundant statutory authority
to manage the national energy system
that is based on fossil fuels.
[Judge Hurwitz]
You don't doubt that Congress
and the President could give
you the relief you seek?
I don't think Congress and the President
ever will without the--
Well, but you see, we may
have the wrong Congress
and the wrong President.
That's occurred from time
to time over history.
The real question for us is whether or not
we get to intervene because of that.
You present compelling evidence
that we have a real problem.
You can make compelling
evidence that we have inaction
by the other two branches of government.
It may even rise to the
level of criminal neglect.
The tough question for me,
and I suspect for my colleagues,
is do we get to act because of that?
I'm sympathetic to the
problems you point out.
But you shouldn't say this
is just an ordinary suit.
You're asking us to do a lot
of new stuff, aren't you?
We're asking the court to apply
bedrock constitutional law
and principles to a
wholly new set of facts.
[Judge Murguia] And this
would be the first time
that it would have been done,
except for the District Court?
It would be the first time
that it has been done,
your Honor.
And as the Supreme Court
said in Plyler v. Doe,
children are special
and the court provides
a heightened level of review,
when government acts in ways
that is harmful to children.
In cases like Brown v. Board of Education,
declaring that discrimination
can provide redress.
It tells government,
you can't do that anymore.
We must be a nation that
applies the rule of law
to harmful government conduct
that threatens the lives
of our children, so that they can grow up
safe and free and pursue their happiness.
And that is what the founders intended.
So, we respectfully request
that the court lift the stay
and remand for trial.
And thank you very much.
[crowd cheering]
[Judge Murguia] Thank you.
We are now in recess.
Thank you very much.
[gavel banging]
[crowd cheering]
[crowd chanting]
[Jacob] I really hope that these judges
can look at the evidence clearly
and also look at the
history of our nation,
how it was founded, what it stands for,
what its people today are
asking of their leaders
[crowd cheering]
and what justice means to people today.
And I hope they look at all of that
and make the right decision.
[somber music plays]

Hey everyone, so I just
woke up this morning
to the news that we
had the case dismissed,
at least at face value.
That's what all the major
headlines are saying.
Two of the three judges
ruled that the court
actually doesn't have
any power to intervene.
It's just so frustrating,
because four years in
and we still haven't even gone to trial.
Yeah, it's really sad.
I don't understand the
full implications of this,
but it feels like a death.
It feels very scary.
I'm just thinking about
all those young voices
and um
needing to be hopeful still for them.
[birds chirping]
[Phil] So we had a three-judge panel.
Judges Hurwitz and Murguia
wrote the majority opinion,
and their opinion addresses
primarily the issue of standing.
They found that our
evidence clearly established
our plaintiffs have been injured.
And that the federal government
has had a significant role
in causing the injuries,
yet the federal courts
can do nothing about it.
[Julia] They wrote,
"It is beyond the power
of an Article III Court to order,
design, or implement
the plaintiffs' requested remedial plan."
So, that was an error
in the way they viewed
our requested relief.
We did ask the court to
order a remedial plan.
And then to oversee compliance with it.
So to make sure that
the government was going
to actually develop a plan.
But the court was not
going to have any role
in designing the remedy.
Again, the very first request for relief
was say what the constitution
requires of government.
That is the duty of the court,
declare the law.
And tell these children they
have a right to live here
and be safe and secure without
the government harming them.
Two of them voted against,
and then one of them voted for us.
And she, you know,
kind of stood her ground.
Judge Staton said,
"No, this case has standing.
And should go forward to trial."
So she says,
"The government accepts as fact
that the United States has
reached a tipping point
crying out for a concerted response,
yet presses ahead toward calamity."
[Jacob continues] "And while all would now
readily agree that the 91 years
between the Emancipation Proclamation
and the decision in
Brown v. Board was too long,
determining when a court must step in
to protect fundamental rights
is not an exact science."
"In this case, my colleagues
say that time is never,
I say it is now."
"Were we addressing a
matter of social injustice,
one might sincerely lament any delay,
but take solace that the arc
of the moral universe is long,
but it bends toward justice."
[Martin Luther King Jr.]
but it bends toward justice.
[crowd cheering]
[Jacob continues reading] "Where is
the hope in today's decision?"
"When the seas envelop our coastal cities,
fires and droughts haunt our interiors,
and storms ravage everything between,
those remaining will ask,
why did so many do so little?"
"I would hold that plaintiffs
have standing
to challenge the government's conduct,
have articulated claims
under the Constitution,
and have presented sufficient evidence
to press those claims at trial."
"I would therefore affirm
the District Court."
"With respect, I dissent."
[horse neighing]
As far as, you know,
me, where I go forward,
where do we plaintiffs go forward?
We can make choices about what
we wanna do with our lives.
We can choose to make a difference,
to stand up for what's right,
and sometimes really big things happen.
[drums beating, crowds chanting]
[man over PA indistinctly]
In 2030, the history books will show
that faced with imminent destruction,
people on the front lines fought back.
That is why we're here.
We're here to write a new story.
A story in which our
country is doing everything
in its power to address not
only the climate crisis,
but the systemic injustices at its roots.
A story in which our constitutional right
to a safe climate is recognized
by the highest court.
A story in which young people Rose up
around the world to
demand immediate action.
That starting on this day,
everything began to change.
[crowd cheering]
Children like us,
we haven't been given any say
in the decisions that
are directly impacting
and taking away our future.
We're never gonna give up
until we get climate action.
[crowd cheering]
We are here today to show
that we stand together united
in our commitment to climate justice.
[crowd cheering]
We have come here to let you
know that change is coming,
whether you like it or not.
[Crowd chanting] No justice, no peace.
No justice, no peace.
[Kiran] We're not done fighting.
This isn't over.
There's a future
You can believe in
Hermano mio
There's a future you can believe in
[Julia] I hope these
kids go down in history
as the kids who brought the
Brown v. Board of Education
decision on climate.
I hope "Kelsey Juliana" is
the name that people remember
and learn about 100 years from now.
There's a future
You can believe in
Gonna take more than songs
of justice and freedom
Freedom yeah
If you're thinking about leaving
Hold my hand, over stand
This too can be your kingdom
And when the rain comes
Put your hands in the dirt, Baba,
This is where you came from
This is where you came from
This is where you came from
This is where you came from
Systems broken, no fucks given
Wealthy people living off
the backs of the broken
Dreams of America
Dreams of America
Need a pipe carrier
And let me smudge you off so
the vision can get clearer
Your mother's crying
boy, can you hear her?
You gotta put down the weight
You gotta get out of your way
You gotta put down the weight
You gotta get out of your way
Dear lover
You can find me on the
front lines covered
In the blood and tears of another
Brother, sister, mother
Revolutions being broadcast
on Facebook and Twitter
There's a noise
I can hear it when the megaphone roars
Wipe the tears from
this tear gas choice
You have a choice
Stand in front of your fear
Baby, time to find your voice
It's a story
A love story
You can believe in
Death, birth, your life's worth,
it's trending
A story
A love story
How vain are we to
expect a happy ending
Disenfranchised, step into a new life
Baby if you listen to the wind,
there's a war cry
Peace in America
Peace in America
Let me smudge you off so the
vision can get clearer
Your mother's crying,
can you hear her?
So you believe that the
climate has changed,
but you don't believe in climate change?
Oh, God.
I know you've been frustrated
when I open my mouth
to speak on this issue,
but I can only say that I
would endeavor to find out more
and to learn more.
So let's agree to have you teach me more.
Is that okay?
Okay, cool.
You gotta get out of your way
Ye tiahu, ye taihu
Tiahui Yaotecame tlalpixque [Tiahui]
Ximohuala nikan cenyilzti
Juntar los pueblos
empieza con la familia
Hermano luchamos por lo que
dijo la abuelita [es tiempo]
I can see it in Grandma's eyes
My ancestor's wildest dreams
We survived genocide
This goes out to all the
young souls that never made it
Promise me I'll never pick
your body off the pavement
Rematriate the land that they've taken
The water they poisoned
My people've been praying for peace
Hands up don't mean
that they won't shoot
United at the borders, a
generation facing the truth
Se acabo el silencio
Bullets fly by,
raining in the night time
Around the world tribes
gather as the tides rise
Put down the weight, my
love, this is our time
[Little Xiuhtezatl] Now who
wants to make a better future
for us and our children?
[crowd cheering]
I can't hear you.
[crowd cheering]
Yes, together we can do it.
The power of one.
Thank you.
[crowd cheers]
You gotta put down the weight
You gotta get out of your way
You gotta put down the weight
You gotta get out of your way
[slow music playing]