The U.S. government wants, of course, to have the case dismissed, and has tried various arguments to accomplish that. Their latest attempt, presented in the District Court in Eugene, Oregon, is interesting: that the climate change problem is real, but it's global and so outside of the hands of the U.S. From the Courthouse News Service:
"In oral arguments on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Frank Singer acknowledged that some of the injuries the kids claimed they have suffered, like the flooding of their homes during hurricanes or asthma from polluted air, may indeed be traceable to climate change and could give the kids standing to bring their lawsuit.I wonder if the White House knows its own lawyers are admitting that climate change is real and serious.
"But Singer claimed that the government couldn’t possibly manage to resolve what amounts to a global problem, saying U.S. action alone can’t return the planet to the 350 parts per million of dissolved carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists have deemed to be the safe threshold."
The US attorney actually went farther than that:
“The United States government doesn’t force people to drive their cars or command them to ride in planes,” Singer said. “It’s a matter of arithmetic. It is really third parties that are contributing to this. It is not the United States. And so this case fails.”That doesn't strike me as a very intelligent argument; in fact, it's obviously wrong, as the US has contributed more than any other nation to the problem, in terms of cumulative CO2 emissions.
Maybe lawyers just throw arguments against the wall and see what sticks.
I doubt these kids (many now college-aged) will win this suit, in the end. Some judge will find a way to throw it out, and the Supreme Court finally will, if necessary.
But it's interesting because you to have to think there are going to be a great many lawsuits coming in the next half-century, as coastal cities start to go underwater and people start to lose homes on the coast. Such losses won't be so theoretical and will have actual dollar values attached to them. Homeowners and the banks who finance their mortgages aren't going to just walk away from, say, a million dollar home on the beach -- they're going to argue climate change isn't their fault and they want reimbursed for their real, tangible loss. Who's going to get stuck holding the bag? It'll be a game of climate musical chairs. I doubt taxpayers will fare well in those attempts to seek justice.