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Federal judge allows climate change lawsuit to proceed

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Oregon [official website] ruled [opinion] Thursday that a lawsuit against the US federal government over failure to limit the emission of greenhouse gasses can proceed. The lawsuit was filed by Earth Guardians [advocacy website], an organization of young environmental activists who are alleging that the US government has violated their Due Process [text] rights to life, liberty and property by failing to protect them from the dangers of climate change. The plaintiffs seek a declaration from the judge stating that their constitutional rights have been violated and an order forcing the government to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gasses. The government was joined by several industry organizations from the oil and gas industry in the motion to dismiss the suit, claiming, among other things, that it was a political issue. The denial of the motion will mean that the lawsuit can proceed in the district court, and that the plaintiff will now have a chance to present evidence.

Climate change [JURIST backgrounder] has been a controversial issue for many years. Many experts agree that it is one of the most important and pressing issues that governments face today. It has historically been difficult for governments around the world to agree on a solution to the problem. But a week ago a large step was taken when the Paris Agreement [JURIST report] went into effect, setting a cap on global warming temperatures. One of the biggest hurdles to reaching an agreement was getting China and the US [JURIST report] to sign on, the two countries being the largest emitters of greenhouse gasses, collectively responsible for about 40 percent of all gasses emitted.

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