O n Thursday, the first outline of President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget revealed what environmentalists had feared: a 31% funding cut for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The move is not surprising. The writing had been on the wall for the EPA since Mr. Trump nominated Scott Pruitt, a noted climate change sceptic who last week denied that carbon dioxide emissions are a primary cause of global warming, flying in the face of all scientific evidence, to head the department. In the early weeks of his presidency, Mr. Trump has also cut off a series of Obama-era environmental regulations and continued his loud opposition to the landmark Paris Accords.
Unlike America’s presidency, climate change does not refresh itself every four or eight years. That is the basis of an innovative lawsuit against the federal government that environmentalists say is the first of its kind. A group of 21 young Americans, aged between 9 and 20, are taking the government and energy companies to court, claiming that their failure to address global warming violates their “constitutional rights to life, liberty and property”.
The plaintiffs reason that, as climate change threatens their future, the government has violated their constitutional right to due process.
Originally levied during the Obama-era, the lawsuit was cleared to go to trial in November by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals - the same court that struck down President Trump’s first attempt at a travel ban. Now, the Trump administration is seeking to overturn that ruling and prevent the suit from being heard in court.
If successful, the lawsuit could force the government to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and take concerted efforts to tackle global warming. It could also change the way that green warriors fight anti-environmental policies. Similar cases attempting to hold authorities to account over climate change have been brought at a state level, but this is the first to be levelled against the federal government.
America’s kids are not going down without a fight.