Press Releases
Amnesty International USA, Partners Intervene in Landmark Youth Climate Case Calling for the Courts to Play Their Role, Protect Rights 

March 13, 2020 

Contact: Rebecca Sharer, 

A coalition of environmental and human rights organizations that includes Amnesty International USA, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), as well as New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic and five experts in international law, yesterday submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a rehearing on the Juliana v. United States climate case. 

The lawsuit had been brought by a group of young people to call on courts to declare that the Federal government had violated their rights and to order the government to put in place a plan to phase out fossil fuels in order to protect the climate. The amicus brief follows a January 2020 split decision by a panel of the Ninth Circuit reversing a District Court ruling in favor of the plaintiffs and dismissing their case. The brief argues this decision should be reversed as part of a new hearing. 

“Human rights and the climate crisis go hand in hand. The effects of climate change will reverberate throughout our society, compounding inequalities and making it almost impossible for people to have access to the most basic of rights, such as clean air, clean water, and food,” said Zeke Johnson, Senior Director of Programs at Amnesty International USA. “The failure of governments to act on the climate crisis will deeply impact young generations, especially Indigenous Peoples and other communities already facing discrimination. The climate crisis may well be the biggest inter-generational violation of human rights in history. We’re thrilled to be standing with the Juliana plaintiffs as they fight for their future in court.”

“The Ninth Circuit has acknowledged the grave nature of climate harms facing the Juliana plaintiffs and the compelling evidence of the government’s role in those harms,” said Carroll Muffett, President of the Center for International Environmental Role. “For decades, courts around the world have recognized that when a government is systematically violating fundamental rights, the judicial branch has not only the authority but the affirmative duty to respond. The court sitting en banc should correct its error, and afford the plaintiffs–and the generation they represent–access to remedy and the opportunity for climate justice.”

“Norway, The Netherlands, Germany, Pakistan, Colombia, the UK. The courts in each of these countries have reviewed climate and environmental policies to ensure they adequately protected health and human rights. The courts of the US should do the same, as they have before on a wide range of human rights issues,” said César Rodríguez-Garavito, Visiting Professor of Clinical Law at NYU School of Law’s Global  Justice Clinic. 

The amicus brief argues that:

Amnesty International has previously intervened in litigation on the climate crisis before the Canadian Supreme Court in Canada and the Quebec Court of Appeal. It has also provided advice and support to other organizations carrying out climate crisis litigation in the Philippines and the Netherlands. 

The brief is available here. For more information on the case, see



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