A judge in Texas has recently ruled that the atmosphere – air — is a public trust. The “public trust” doctrine, a legal principle derived from English Common Law, and most commonly applied to water, requires the public trustee, usually the state, to act to maintain and enhance the trust’s resources for the benefit of future generations.
On behalf of the youth of America, Our Children’s Trust, Kids Versus Global Warming and others have begun filing suits around the country—in 13 states so far—arguing that the atmosphere is a public trust. The Texas court is the first to support the possibility that the “public trust” doctrine may justify the creation of an atmospheric trust. One Houston law firm advised its clients that the decision may represent a “shot heard ‘round the world” in climate change litigation.
It’s time to take note of Atmospheric Trust Litigation (ATL) as a promising, legally binding, global approach to address climate change, and to support the passionate young people and attorneys who are taking action with Our Children’s Trust.