This 16 Year Old is Suing the US Government Over Climate Change

By Danielle Pope

This 16 Year Old is Suing the US Government Over Climate Change
How 21 American teenagers are taking on the US government

Colorado born Xiuhtezcatl Martinez , (pronounced “Shoe-Tez-Caht”) had an early introduction to environmental activism. He was around eight years old when the fracking boom came to his home state. Eight year’s later, Colorado now has more than 50,000 fracking wells. For Martinez, the impact on the environment encouraged him to research climate change. “As soon as I began to educate myself about climate change, I saw that the world I was in love with was falling apart,” he told ABC.

By age 12, Martinez had already organised more than 35 protests and rallies. In 2013, he received the national community service award from President Obama. In 2015 he addressed the United Nations on environmental policy and the future of his generation. He is now the youth director of environmental group “Earth Guardians”, a worldwide organisation that inspires and unites young people in the fight against climate change.

Led by Martinez, the group of 21 American teenagers filed for court action in October last year against the American government. The case alleged that because the government was undertaking activities that cause climate change, it was therefore denying the constitutional rights of young people to life, liberty and property.

An application by the government and various fossil fuel companies to dismiss the case was denied last year, and now lawyers are planning to take the case to the federal court in coming months. “We do not have time to waste, we do not have time to push this back,” says Martinez. “The Court denied the motion to dismiss. Twenty-one young people overcame a multi-billion dollar industry and one of the most powerful governments in the world.”

A ruling in favour of the activists would be a landmark decision. The decision also comes as US President Donald Trump has announced his intentions to roll back US policy on reducing greenhouse emissions, including promoting the coal industry and quitting the Paris Climate Agreement.

You can find out more about Martinez and the Earth Guardians via their website


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