A lawsuit filed last Wednesday against the
U.S. federal government by a group called Our Children's
Trust alleges that key government agencies have failed to confront
a human-induced global climate crisis and, by their actions, have
caused, approved and allowed too many carbon emissions into the
Earth's atmosphere. No similar litigation has been
attempted in Canada, though Canadian courts have previously declined to enforce
compliance with Kyoto Protocol obligations.
The suit was filed in the United States District Court, Northern
District of California by members of the coalition group, Our
Children's Trust. The plaintiffs, which include several
minors, found their case on the "Public Trust Doctrine",
which posits that federal officials have a fiduciary duty to hold
the country's vital natural resources such as the
atmosphere in trust for present and future generations of citizens.
They argue that the federal government has a mandatory duty to
affirmatively preserve and protect the nation's trust
assets from damage or loss, and not to use these assets in a manner
that causes injury to the trust beneficiaries, present and future.
The plaintiffs are seeking equitable remedies as they argue that
monetary damages alone are inadequate to remedy their injuries.
According to news reports , similar public
trust lawsuits are being filed against states across the U.S.
However, several American commentators are not
optimistic regarding the plaintiff's chances of success,
particularly in light of recent comments from the U.S. Supreme
Court which seem sceptical of similar climate change litigation
founded on public nuisance.
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