350 Colorado has been focused on engaging youth climate leaders and activists for many years, and has recently partnered with the documentary filmmaking team for the powerful film Youth v. Gov, which was released on Netflix at the end of April 2022. You can learn more about the film and court case Juliana vs. The United States here, which the film follows.
By Mason Smith
Young people have been on the frontlines of activism for centuries, leaving behind an inspiring legacy. No less is true for young people in the face of climate change.
The documentary Youth v. Gov spotlights youth climate activism, leaving audiences feeling inspired, empowered, and hopeful that the future of climate change is in the right hands. The film tells the story of the twenty-one young people who are the face of the Juliana v. The United States of America lawsuit. Since 2015, these twenty-one young people have bravely taken a stand against one of the strongest governments in the world to advocate for their future – for our future.
For too long, attacks on our climate have become normalized by governments who have little regard for what sort of world they are leaving behind to generations to come. Youth v. Gov tells the powerful story of some of the youth who have decided it’s time to fight back. As land dries up beyond recognition, farms become unsustainable, and catastrophic natural disasters become commonplace, the government continues to burn fossil fuels despite knowing the disastrous impacts of their actions. With the support of Our Children’s Trust, a legal nonprofit organization, these young people have taken the stand to advocate for their future – with fear that if they didn’t, they might not have one.
After six years of fighting, on November 1, 2021, settlement negotiations between the plaintiffs, their attorneys, and the Department of Justice ended with no clear resolution. Now, the case awaits Rulings on a Motion for Leave to file a Second Amended Complaint and Motion to Intervene.
This case has been called “the most important lawsuit on the planet” by legal experts. It tells the story of these young people’s bravery in facing the US government and is a reminder of how the actions of those in positions of power have the potential to leave behind a devastating legacy. The government continues to drill fossil fuels and create further irreversible damage to our planet despite knowing the consequences. It is the young people who will be most affected by these actions when they are left with an unsustainable and dying planet. Juliana v. The United States and the associated documentary illustrates the power of young people’s voices and the hope we can have for our planet’s future when it is left in their hands.
Youth v. Gov is newly available to watch on Netflix since April 29th 2022. The trailer can be found on the Youth v. Gov website at this link. Your support in viewing the film sends the message that we are invested and we are ready for the government to take bold climate action to leave behind a sustainable future.
In similar efforts as Youth v. Gov to amplify youth voices and experiences with climate change, I have dedicated some of my time as an intern with 350 Colorado to conducting interviews with young people about their experiences with mental health as it relates to climate change. We’ll be publishing the findings of this research soon.
In the meantime, please support the youth in your life and join the movement to create a more sustainable future – continuing calls for stronger and bolder climate leadership in action in the months to come.
Here’s how you can get involved and learn more:
- To hear more about how young people have expressed their experience with mental health and climate change, join the Youth Action Committee (YAC) meeting on Wednesday, 5/25 at 6pm where Mason Smith (350 CO intern and author of this article) will be presenting her study summary. Register here to join! (*You can also find the Zoom link to join all of our committee calls on the 350 Colorado website calendar here: https://350colorado.org/calendar/)
- Watch Youth v. Gov and spread the word!
- Learn more about 350 Colorado’s Youth Action Committee! Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.