'60 Minutes' interviews UO student about climate change suit

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UO undergraduate Kelsey Juliana, the lead plaintiff in the landmark environmental lawsuit Juliana v. United States, will be featured in an interview with Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” on March 3.

Kelsey JulianaJuliana, a Eugene native and environmental studies major, along with her attorney, Julia Olson of Our Children’s Trust, sat down to discuss the landmark case against the government. Our Children’s Trust has argued that “through the government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.”

While Juliana is just one of 21 young adults bringing the lawsuit, as lead plaintiff her voice has been one of the most vocal. Her name is associated with the case, which has been called "the biggest lawsuit on the planet.”  

The implications and responsibilities of the suit could be a heavy burden for almost anyone, especially a 22-year-old balancing academics and activism. However, for Juliana the effort is its own reward.

“It’s so worth it to go out there and to try to make a change,” she said while addressing a crowd in Long Beach, California. “As younger people, we may not have a lot of political clout … but we still have a voice. Our court systems are the way that we are going to demand climate recovery.”

Juliana — who, like the other plaintiffs, was a teen when the suit originally was filed — has taken her message of climate recovery nationally and internationally. In response, young people from around the world have been inspired to take action.

However, despite speaking about the lawsuit to so many audiences, she and the other plaintiffs are still waiting for the chance to testify before a federal court in Eugene.

“We have been waiting for three years to get into that courtroom and to speak our truths as plaintiffs about our climate harms,” Juliana said at a recent presentation to the City Club of Eugene. “We are still waiting for our new climate trial date.”

An Oct. 28, 2018, court date was delayed, and the case is currently under review before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

To learn more about Juliana’s story and the lawsuit, tune in March 3 at 7 p.m. to watch the “60 Minutes” interview. Check your local CBS News affiliate for alternate airtimes.

By Rayna Jackson, School of Law