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Youth Climate Activists Rally At Courthouses Nationwide

Bellamy Pailthorp
Youth climate activist Azure Faloona, with Plant for the Planet, speaks while his friend Alex Sayres holds the microphone, at the rally in front of the federal courthouse in Seattle on October 29, 2018.

Dozens of youth climate activists and their supporters rallied outside the federal courthouse in Seattle on Monday. Their demonstration was one of more than 70 such gatherings planned around the country, in support of the 21 young plaintiffs in a landmark case against the U.S. government.   

The young plaintiffs argue the federal government’s support of fossil fuels violates their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property and has failed to protect resources in the public trust for future generations.

The landmark case was set to begin Monday in federal court in Eugene, but is on hold while the Supreme Court decides whether it should move forward. The U.S. government argued litigation costs for a trial would be too much.

Azure Faloona, a middle-schooler who describes himself as a climate justice ambassador with Plant for the Planet, was among the youths speaking at the rally, demanding a swift resolution, so that the plaintiffs can finally be heard.

“We don’t have the time to wait. This is the case of the century. The majority of the federal court judges are older adults. They won’t be harmed by climate change nearly as much as us youth or their children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren,” he said.

No Monetary Damages Sought  

The plaintiffs want the federal government to implement a National Climate Recovery Plan and transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

The government argues the lawsuit is an unconstitutional attempt to use a single Oregon court to control the entire nation's energy and climate policy.

Arguing against that in Seattle was 16-year-old Jamie Margolin, a junior in high school and the founder of the national youth climate march called The Zero Hour. It has now caught on in 25 cities around the world.

Credit Elaine Thompson / AP Photo
AP Photo
Jamie Margolin, a high school junior, speaks during a rally by youth activists and others in support of a high-profile climate change lawsuit, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Seattle.

Speaking to the Seattle crowd, she cited the recent U.N. report on climate change that says we only have 12 years left to limit global warming to moderate levels.

"In 12 years, I'll be 28. My life and the life of my entire generation will be just beginning when the world is ending, quite literally. And that is really hard to grow up in,” she said.

Margolin is also a plaintiff in the youth climate case against Washington State that’s currently on appeal. The nonprofit Our Children’s Trusthas filed similar suits in all 50 states, along with the federal one.  

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to