In June 2023, a district court judge in Helena, Montana, ruled in favor of sixteen youth plaintiffs (ages 5 to 22) who sued the state over climate change. It was the first time in U.S. history that young people won a constitutional claim against their government on climate. It will not be the last. In fact, while Lahaina burned to ground from a deadly fire whose flames were fanned by climate change, fourteen youths (ages 9 to 18) in Hawaii, including two from West Maui, continued preparing for a climate trial scheduled for June 2024 that challenges the state to decarbonize its transportation system, the sector responsible for the biggest portion of state’s greenhouse gas emissions. And earlier this year, a constitutional climate case filed eight years ago by twenty-one youths ages 8 to 18 from across country against the federal government rose from the ashes of an earlier dismissal and is back on track toward trial.
Author, magazine writer, and speaker Elizabeth Rusch has been closely following these three cases and more around the United States and world. She is the author of The Twenty-One: The True Story of the Youth Who Sued the U.S. Government Over Climate Change, which received starred reviews from Kirkus, who called it “moving and absorbing” and Booklist, who described it as “action-packed,” “vivid,” and “inspiring.” Peoplemagazine listed it as a “Must-Read.”
Rusch is the award-winning author of more than 24 other books, which have received multiple starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Horn Book, Booklist, School Library Journal, and the BCCB, among others. Other environmental books include: The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans and Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved our Planet. Her work has won the Golden Kite Award, the Subaru Prize, the Cook Prize, the Green Earth Award, and the Oregon Book Award, and has landed on many notable and best of the year lists produced by ALA, Kirkus, NBC News and the New York and Chicago Public Libraries. Rusch also the author of more than a hundred articles in publications such as The New York Times, Smithsonian, Harper’s, Backpacker, American Craft, Mother Jones, and Portland Monthly, among many others.
Liz’s newest talk, “Listen to the Children on Climate Change – The Courts Are,” gives audiences a clear and deep understanding of the youth-led, rights-based climate lawsuits that are transforming the legal landscape on the environment and offering real hope for our planet.