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Past Event

Climate Vanguard: Youth-Powered Litigation at Our Children's Trust

Our Children’s Trust (OCT) was founded in 2010 on the idea that courts are vital to democracy and empowered to protect our children and the planet. Without a stable climate system, every natural resource we rely upon to exercise our basic human rights—life, liberty, home, happiness—is under threat.

In this conversation, you'll hear from Mat dos Santos, OCT's co-executive director, and two youth plaintiffs about how Our Children's Trust is changing the conversation around climate by activating the courts in the face of political gridlock. Last year, OCT represented 169 young plaintiffs globally in landmark cases such as Juliana v. U.S. and Held v. State of Montana—the first cases, worldwide, to recognize the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life, and to enshrine science-based protections for children’s fundamental rights into law. On June 1, 2022, 14 youth in Hawai'i filed a constitutional climate lawsuit against the State of Hawai'i claiming that their operation of a transportation system that results in high levels of greenhouse gas emissions violates their state constitutional rights, causing them significant harm and impacting their ability to “live healthful lives in Hawai'i now and into the future.” The youth seek to ensure the Hawai'i Department of Transportation steps up to meet the state legislature’s goal to decarbonize Hawai'is economy and achieve a zero emissions economy by 2045. 

In coordination with more than 50 prominent scientists, including Nobel Prize laureates, OCT also presented legal and scientific analyses on climate change impacts to various international and regional tribunals, including the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and the Environment, U.N. Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, European Court of Human Rights, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

MLF Organizer
Andrew Dudley

A People & Nature Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

Photos courtesy the speakers.

May 14, 2024

Commonwealth Club World Affairs of California
110 The Embarcadero
Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Mat dos Santos

Mat dos Santos

Co-executive Director and General Counsel, Our Children's Trust

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Avroh S.

Young Plaintiff, Genesis B. vs United State Environmental Protection Agency

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Kalālapa W.

Youth plaintiff in Navahine v. Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation

Image - Andrew Dudley

Andrew Dudley

President and CEO, Earth; Co-host, "Earth Live"—Moderator