The world community over the last few days has seen the reaction of youth across the globe to the unfolding climate change catastrophe. Greta Thunberg’s presence and words at the United Nations in New York were the centerpiece of an international movement of children and young people demanding a stop to the madness of unrelenting greenhouse gas emissions. They want the nations of the world to take all steps necessary to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions down to zero with additional measures such as reforestation to take us to net zero, they want governments everywhere to have well-funded plans to deal effectively with the changes already being caused, and they want all this—no, they demand it—as soon as possible.
Greta and the Fridays for Future youth movement are right. The science on climate change is clear. Unless fundamental changes are made, this unfolding catastrophe can only get much worse. We have a moral imperative to stop this. Business as usual scenarios on climate emissions from the US, China, and India makes zero sense, from an economic or any other perspective.
As lawyers, we should do everything reasonable in our power to support the youth climate movement by joining in their call for speedy reduction and soon elimination of greenhouse gas emissions and other measures to stabilize the climate. Here are some things you can do right now.
- Eat less meat and share your concern about worldwide meat consumption with friends and family. Support meatless Mondays at your law firm or office. Learn more here.
- Support sustainability in law practice. Learn more here.
- Write to your federal elected officials and tell them that you agree with the youth movement on climate change and you support strong government action to address the urgent problem of climate change. Learn more here.
- Look for ways to promote the cause of fighting climate change at your legal workplace and in any bar association or other legal organization of which you are a member, such as:
The American Bar Association adopted a resolution in August 2019 urging “lawyers to engage in pro bono activities to aid efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.” Lawyers should heed the call.
This is far too important to leave to the youth movement to fight alone. The youth are right to demand action on climate. The legal profession and community should support the youth climate movement.