Since when do teens start suing Obama? President Obama has plenty of detractors, but leading the recent charge is a 15-year-old who is suing the Commander in Chief over climate change and fossil fuel use. While President Obama attends the U.N. COP21 climate change summit in Paris, he also faces legal action from a Colorado teenager, as well as 21 other plaintiffs – many of them teenagers themselves – over his failure to wean the nation off its dependency on fossil fuels – and the resultant greenhouse gases that come from burning them.
Writes CNN on Nov. 30: “Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh became a climate change activist at age 6 when he saw an environmental documentary. He asked his mom to find a way for him to speak at a rally. Now 15, the long-haired, hip-hop-savvy Coloradan is one of 21 young activists joining climate scientist James Hansen in suing the Obama administration for failing to ditch fossil fuels.”
“It’s basically a bunch of kids saying you’re not doing your job,” said Tonatiuh, according to CNN. “You’re failing, you know. F-minus. We’re holding you accountable for your lack of action.”
Obama admitted at the summit that there is a problem – and a solution.
“I’ve come here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it,” Obama said, according to the New York Times.
To Tonatiuh, the time for talk is well over.
“He’s said it before, that climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time,” Tonatiuh told CNN. “That, in his lifetime, he wants to see the slowing of the rising seas. We’ve all seen that speech. Talk is cheap. I want to see concrete action and concrete promises from our country – and commitments for action on climate change.”
“Despite his young age, Tonatiuh speaks like a veteran activist because, in a sense, he is one. His interest in climate activism began before enrolled in elementary school; he had his first public speaking engagement at age six. At age 13, he gave a TedX speech on environmental activism, was awarded the 2013 United States Community Service Award, and served on President Obama’s 2013 Youth Council. At 15, he was featured in a profile in Rolling Stone and spoke about climate change in front of the U.N. General Assembly.”
The federal lawsuit was filed back in August, and it is just one of 50 such lawsuits filed from every state. The suits are spearheaded by the Oregon-based organization Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit self-described as elevating “the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate for the benefit of all present and future generations.”
“The reason we are fighting for this is because of the world we want to grow up in, and the world we want our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to grow up in,” Tonatiuh said, speaking of future generations even though he is still in many ways just a child himself. “This is not a selfish cause. We’re not politically invested, we’re not financially invested… We are in this because of the way it affects the state of the planet we want to be left with. That is the most noble cause I’d say: Leaving our children a better planet than the one we are living in today. We are doing our part. We need political leaders to step up and do theirs.”
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